Less than a year after moving into a new 40,000 sq. ft. production facility in its home base of Bend, Ore., Humm Kombucha has already outgrown it. In fact, it may have just outgrown the West Coast.
Today Humm announced it had reached an agreement with the City of Roanoke, Va. for the construction of a new $10 million, 100,000 sq. ft. facility that will be the future home of the kombucha brand’s East Coast brewery.
“We are all about accessibility,” Humm CEO and co-founder Jamie Danek told BevNET. “We are all about making the actual product as accessible as possible, and then making it available for as many people as possible. This is just an add-on to our mission of what Humm is really doing — it’s a way to make Humm more accessible to more people.”
The 12-acre site, set to begin construction in January 2018, will be located in the Roanoke Center for Industry and Technology (RCIT), a 440-acre industrial park developed to accommodate manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, and logistics operations. The new facility will create approximately 50 jobs and is scheduled to open in 2019.
Danek and co-founder Michelle Mitchell told BevNET that they had been exploring options for a new facility since the beginning of the year in anticipation of the need for more production capacity, based on Humm’s growth trajectory thus far. In considering the costs of shipping cross-country and a desire to bring Humm to new consumers in different regions, they eventually determined that an East Coast location would be ideal.
After discussing Roanoke’s merits with fellow Bend beverage maker Deschutes Brewery, which is set to begin work in 2019 on a new beer brewery also to be located in the RCIT, Danek and Mitchell said they began to think seriously about opening a facility in the city. They quickly determined it would be a good fit for both economic and cultural reasons. Deschutes founder and CEO Gary Fish is also a member of the board of directors at Humm.
“Culture was something that was a really big deal to us,” said Mitchell. She called Roanoke “kind of a sister city to Bend” because of residents’ shared interest in the outdoors and supporting local brands. She continued: “The culture of our company and taking care of the people who work at Humm has been top of our minds since day one. It was a really important consideration when looking at where else to build.”
Equally important to Humm is the city’s business-friendly atmosphere. Building the new brewery in the RCIT makes the company eligible to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, which provides state and local incentives to businesses that invest and create jobs within designated areas. Governor Terry McAuliffe also approved a $150,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Roanoke with the project, according to a press release.
“It’s an impressive group of people and an impressive town,” said Danek. “They are so organized and have all their bases covered and really care about creating jobs and bringing industry to this area. They’ve spent a lot of time on doing that and have created a very positive business environment, which includes some incentives and things from the government to help entice businesses to come.”
When the Roanoke facility is brought online in 2019, it will be roughly 3.5 times the size of Humm’s current facility in Bend, but otherwise many of the details are still being worked out. Danek and Mitchell said the company’s headquarters would remain in Oregon, and that they would take time to explore potential uses for the plant outside of simply making more bottled kombucha.
“The facility is still a year-and-a-half out, so we have some time to plan out what exactly will come out of it. Right now, it’s bottles of Humm Kombucha,” said Danek. She noted that Humm’s business is still primarily on the West Coast, despite making gains after launching on the East Coast earlier this year. “I’d say eventually [the Roanoke facility] will probably be the main distribution area, but I think for a while it’s still going to be the Bend facility. It’s not going to be bigger for quite a while.”
The announcement comes just a few months after Humm completed an $8 million Series B fundraising round led by Velocity Made Good (VMG) Partners in June. Danek said funding for the Roanoke facility will come from a combination of sources, but that Humm was not currently seeking further private equity investment.
“We’re not raising capital,” she said. “VMG is our partner and we are thrilled to be working with them. Now it will be really more about bank financing, equipment financing and things like that, not what we did before with the big equity raises.”