One of the largest candy makers in the country, headquartered in El Paso, is opening its fourth facility in the region next month – just in time for a sweet Halloween candy binge.
Mount Franklin Foods will open a 220,000-square-foot facility in San Jeronimo, Mexico, just across the border from Santa Teresa, New Mexico, northwest of El Paso. The facility will open in October.
Enrique Grajeda, CEO of Mount Franklin Foods, said the new plant is in a strategic location for the company, and that all of its facilities are within a 30-mile radius.
He declined to specify how much was spent on the new facility but said it was a multimillion-dollar investment.
“We’ve purchased significant amounts of land to double our footprint in the years to come,” Grajeda said. “This is the first phase of expansions. If things continue to look bright we should be able to double in the next five to 10 years.”
Mount Franklin Foods makes candy for many nationally-known brands, and also has its own line of products. The new San Jeronimo facility will be used to make soft non-chocolate candy, which includes treats like fruit snacks, gummy worms and gummy peach rings.
The facility will add 130 million pounds of capacity for Mount Franklin Foods. And the first opening phase of the new facility will bring in 300 jobs, with an additional 350 by the end of the first fiscal quarter of 2021, Grajeda said.
“It’s more than likely that all people in El Paso have tried our candies at some point,” he said.
The San Jeronimo facility is in an industrial park alongside other companies, including Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant.
Grajeda said the facility’s location near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, with the possibility of approval for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s preclearance program, would allow Mount Franklin Foods to expedite access to its products.
Grajeda said the new facility has state-of-the-art confectionary technology, and a news release from the company states the facility will also have a packaging line and research and development capabilities.
Mount Franklin Foods has more than 1.3 million square feet in operations at four facilities in the borderland. Grajeda took the helm as CEO in July 2019. The company employs more than 4,000 people in its El Paso, Juárez and North Carolina facilities.
Brands in the Mount Franklin Foods portfolio include Azar nuts, Hospitality Mints and Sunrise Confections.
Like everything else, the candy business has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit manufacturing operations on both sides of the border.
Grajeda said this year has been challenging, but that the company’s employees keep Mount Franklin Foods moving forward.
“I don’t think anyone has been immune from the effects of COVID,” Grajeda said. “For me, you have to stay positive and understand this will pass. You have to be very creative, be able to adapt and have a strong team that helps you make decisions. We’ve always focused on employee safety.”
He added, “I’ve seen it bring out the best in people, when it comes to being creative and weathering the storm.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Sara Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 534-4422.