FLORIDA -- Vida-Blend founder Freddie Luna says he'll be able to ramp up his company's production of premixed vitamin blends sold to food-making companies once his custom-made,14,000-square-foot factory is built inside the Florida Business Park Extension.
The factory will allow him to increase production from 4.5 million pounds of product per year to 30 million pounds per year.
Luna, a Mexican immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1988, started his career working for a vitamin fortification company in the Capital Region. He became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and eventually decided to create his own company in 2013, renting a location on Route 5s. He purchased equipment with the help of $750,000 in loans gathered by friends and family. Now, Luna said, the business has outgrown its current location, necessitating an expansion.
"With all of my customers, I have to pretty much turn down business because I couldn't accommodate it here," he said.
Luna said it's his dream to provide much needed vitamin supplements that food companies add to their products, which can help to fight disease and hunger around the world.
"A lot of kids die from malnutrition due to a lack of iodine," Luna said. "In South America there are a lot of birth defects due to the lack of folic acid. So the goal is to fortify their flour for tortillas or whatever they eat everyday."
Montgomery County Business Development Center officials recently held a ceremonial groundbreaking for Vida-Blend's new factory location in the Florida Business Park Extension.
Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose said Vida-Blend has begun construction on the factory location on 6.5 acres within the park, but the company has not yet closed on the purchase of the land. He said the closing documents have been written and the company is now negotiating a Payment in Lieu of Taxes Agreement.
Luna said his silent partners, his brother-in-law Mike Pigliavento and Mike's brother Ed Pigliavento, the founder of Pigliavento Builders, are handling all of the arrangements with the property and the construction of the factory.
"We're doing the closing in a couple of weeks," Rose said. "They're just waiting for the delivery of the actual building itself, all of the foundation is in."
In 2018 Vida-Blend accepted a $240,000 grant from the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council for additional machinery and equipment, which came with the requirement of creating 11 jobs.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler attended the groundbreaking and praised the planned expansion of Vida-Blend.
“Vida-Blend has become an important part of the vibrant and diverse Mohawk Valley region by producing quality products and giving back to the community it calls home,” Gertler said. “This is another great step forward for the company, Montgomery County and the region, and we are proud to have supported its expansion.”
Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort praised the efforts of Rose and the Montgomery County Business Development Center for helping to keep Vida-Blend a local company.
"Montgomery County is on fire right now with economic development," Ossenfort said.
Rose said Vida-Blend is the third company to locate in the Florida Business Park Extension, the first two being Dollar General and Hill & Markes. He said after the addition of Vida-Blend the park will have about 40 acres of land left to be developed.
Luna said he's thankful Montgomery County has been helpful in his effort to expand his company. He said he has 12 full-time and some part-time employees. He said he hopes the expansion will add 18 full-time employees over the next two years.
"Probably more, but that's being conservative," he said.