'Bounces Back After Flood' - VTPB Moves To Morrisville (listen)
Monday, 12/26/11 5:50pm
(Host) Vermont Peanut Butter Company may be the state's next gourmet specialty food producer to hit the big time.
Business is booming, despite the fact the company lost everything in its Waterbury manufacturing facility to Tropical Storm Irene.
VPR's Amy Noyes has this post-Irene success story:
(Noyes) Chris Kaiser is determined to make a go of his premium peanut butter. And he's not going to let something like a devastating tropical storm get in his way.
He lost everything in his Waterbury factory to the flooding from Irene. But Kaiser decided to start over, even though he didn't have any flood insurance.
Kaiser says all on its own, Vermont Peanut Butter Company found a new space, bought new ingredients, new equipment, and found new manufacturing space in Morrisville.
(Kaiser) "So now here we are. I mean, we're going to make a mark. We're definitely going to make a mark and become one of those companies that Vermont is known for. That's the goal and we have it. We have it."
(Noyes) Vermont Peanut Butter Company had only been in business two years when Irene hit. Its peanut butter had quickly progressed from an experiment in Kaiser's kitchen to a product in demand.
With specialty flavors like cinnamon raisin and banana nut crunch, there's no other peanut butter quite like it. It's also formulated to be highly nutritious. It's like a sports protein bar, but in a jar.
It's sold in sports shops, health food stores, tourist destinations and country stores throughout Vermont. Outside the state, it's being picked up by big retailers, including Whole Foods.
On August 28 everything came to a grinding halt - at the factory at least. But its customers still wanted Vermont Peanut Butter.
(Kaiser) "And the business actually grew while we were shut down. Because demand picked up and people were putting signs on their shelves saying, you know, ‘Vermont Peanut Butter was affected by the hurricane. They will be back.'"
(Noyes) They weren't gone for long. The day after Irene, Kaiser and an employee picked up the pieces in Waterbury. The next day he found the new space in Morrisville.
(Kaiser) "We were up and running in seven weeks. We were shipping stuff out the door in seven weeks. Brand new facility. We got all the equipment we needed. Scraped the bank, you know and we've been running ever since, literally."
(Noyes) Kaiser says he never envisioned running his business in Morrisville, but he's glad it worked out that way.
(Kaiser) "I'd never given Morrisville a thought before. And I thought maybe it was too far away from 89 and then I came up here and I saw Turtle Fur up here and Concept 2. Way Out Wax was here and, you know Butternut Farms and all these great businesses. I thought, ‘Man, this is a great place to do business.'"
(Noyes) Now Kaiser says he hopes his business can give back by helping to revitalize its new community.
(Kaiser) "Morrisville's on the cusp, it seems. We have all this wonderful manufacturing here. I mean if you took all the businesses, including myself, from an economic standpoint we generate a ton of cash in this little area with these businesses. So maybe with us coming here that will entice some other business to come in and take a look as well."
(Noyes) If all goes according to Kaiser's plan, he'll help to make a name for Morrisville as the home of the Vermont Peanut Butter Company.
For VPR News, I'm Amy Noyes.
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