NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Wenner Bread Products, a company based on Long Island, wants to convert a vacant building into a commercial bakery that they say will bring 250 jobs to New Brunswick.
The New Brunswick Planning Board approved a plan to expand the warehouse, add eight 50-foot tall grain silos, and install commercial breadmaking equipment, although most of the building is to remain a warehouse.
There will be three phases to the construction. In the first stage, the company will revamp the interior of the building, installing the bread-making equipment and refrigerators, as well as adding the silos, parking, and a shed.
The second stage would see an approximately 25,200 square foot, 50 feet high addition to the building.
Another phase of the project will realign a rail spur that third phase would be the realignment and revival of an inactive railroad spur leading onto the property. Company officials testified that having access to the rail spur would help keep trucks off the road.
Officials also said they will encourage their employees to use mass transit. The Jersey Avenue train station is directly across the street from the site.
The company has recently threatened to move off of Long Island in an attempt to gain tax concessions from the authorities there. Spiraling operating costs were a major concern of Wenner Bread's management.
At the Planning Board, the company's CEO said there were advantages to consolidating production into one building that leaves room for growth.
"We're excited about moving here… We're in several different buildings right now," said CEO Jeffrey Montie.
Wenner opened its first bakery in Queens in 1956, opened its own factory in 1975, and started a frozen dough plant in 1987. The company grew to have more than 400 workers by 2004.
The company now has a second factory in Bayport, NY, as well as the longest tunnel oven in North America.
According to Newsday, Wenner was engaged in negotiations on a building "out of [New York] state", with the suggestion that the company would downsize operations in Bayport and Ronkonkoma, two Long Island towns.
Wenner Bread was looking for a state that offered tax breaks to that company. Suffolk County offered the firm a $500,000 tax break for 20 years, for the Ronkonkoma bakery.
Wenner manufactures challah, rye, pumpernickel, and a variety of other types of bread, including hot-dog buns and hamburger rolls. The company has a frozen dough product line, which it claims to be "all natural".
Wenner Bakery has been named a VPP Star Employer by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), indicating what the federal agency believes to be a state of "exemplary occupational safety and health".
VPP stands for "Voluntary Protection Program", one of OSHA's assistance programs, which seeks to improve relationships between bosses and employees at organizations with complete health/safety systems. The company has had VPP Star Employer status since 1998.
Seventy percent of the company's workforce is of Latin American ancestry or origin, many of whom speak primarily Spanish.
Wenner teaches the Spanish language to its management, and produces classes that train Spanish-speaking workers in safety procedures.