Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Food manufacturer to expand
The six-acre site on McClurg Road will house the Summer Garden corporate offices and a processing plant.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN — Summer Garden Food Manufacturing, formerly known as Zidian Manufacturing, announced Monday a $6 million expansion project in the 500 block of McClurg Road.
"It is a dream I shared with my late father, John, who started the business years ago by making spaghetti dinners for Sacred Heart Church," said Thomas Zidian, president and chief executive officer of Gia Brands.
"He always talked about manufacturing [bottling] sauce. If he was here today, I know he would be very proud," Zidian said of his father.
The Gia Russa pasta sauce, one of the company's better known products, got its start in Thomas Zidian's kitchen, where he experimented bottling the sauce until it had the fresh taste he wanted.
Zidian, speaking at a news conference Monday at the new company office building, said he was introduced to a "whole new world of fresh pasta sauces" on several trips to Italy. He could not find a company in Italy to manufacture the sauce the way he wanted, however, so he did some testing and bottling at home and found it could be done.
That was some seven years ago. Today, Gia Russa Select Pasta Sauces and Starletta Organic Pasta Sauce are sold in 5,000 retail stores nationally, and Summer Garden produces many private label products for retailer programs and restaurant brands as well as such food products as soups, pastas, salsas, toppings and salad dressing.
About new facility
The six-acre site on McClurg will house the corporate offices for Summer Garden and Gia Brands, as well as the manufacturing building. The ceremonial groundbreaking was Monday.
The company currently has facilities in Youngstown and Coitsville, which will continue to operate while the new facility is being built.
Zidian offered thanks to his mother, Alice, his wife, Jill, and other family members and friends who were in attendance for their support in building the successful business.
The design phase of the project is complete, and design of the processing line has been under way for a year. The final two phases are designing the processing line so it can handle other products, and opening the plant in the spring of 2008, officials said.
Zidian said the company now imports $2.5 million a year in specialty products, which he said the company will be able to produce in the Boardman facility by purchasing specialized equipment and investing in research and development to perfect the process.
Zidian said the company employs 11 people and will add 25 more when the new facility opens.
Zidian said he is particularly proud that the new facility will be environmentally friendly.
The business adheres to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, and is one of the first in the area to do so, said Tim Thomas, consultant architect for LEED process.
Some of the aspects of the program include using 10 percent to 20 percent of recycled materials; buying at least 10 percent of materials within a 500-mile radius; and building a permeable parking lot that will prevent 20 percent to 30 percent runoff.
The company has plans to use the saved rainwater to flush toilets and cool bottles of product in the production phase, and will incorporate more day-lighted space in the building.
Zidian said it will cost an additional $500,000 to $1 million to "go green. But to me that's just being environmentally friendly," he said.
Zidian is also being friendly to the Mahoning Valley by locating his business here. He said it would have been easier and less expensive to locate in Florida, where the company has a warehouse to receive its tomatoes from Italy.
"But our roots are here and I wanted to be here," he said.
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