For fast-growing kombucha maker Health-Ade, 2016 has been about building a foundation for the future.
In March the Los Angeles-based company announced it had secured more than $7 million in funding from CAVU Venture Partners, a private equity firm that has also invested in Bai, High Brew Coffee and WTRMLN WTR. Health-Ade used a portion of the capital to build a new production plant and corporate headquarters.
After seven months of work, the facility, located in Torrance, Calif., is up and running.
In an interview with BevNET, Health-Ade co-founder and COO Justin Trout said the new facility would allow the brand to grow its operations and increase efficiency, but also to reinforce its core ethos.
“Scaling up means doing more of what makes Health-Ade so good, which is why we love it and why our customers love it,” Trout said.
The idea behind opening a second plant was, in one sense, very straightforward: with new equipment, easy access to major highways and nearly five times the space of Health-Ade’s current 10,000 sq. ft. facility, the brand can simply output more volume. Trout declined to say exactly how much that would be, other than that the plant would be able to produce “tons” of product. Health-Ade products are currently sold in over 3,000 stores in 42 states.
Though efficiency has been improved through mechanization, Trout said kombucha would still be brewed, as always, in 2.5 gallon glass jars. Staff will also be expanded at the new facility.
“The expansion is not linear to the output. We can get a lot more done with a lot less people,” he said, adding that “the job of actually working at Health-Ade is much more enjoyable.”
The building, which includes the company’s corporate offices and a bottling operation, was purposefully designed to be expressive of Health-Ade’s ideals and attitudes, said Trout.
“It’s beautifully branded,” he said. “It has our mission and a lot of our core values all over the place. You really recognize why it is you actually want to work at Health-Ade. That’s something we wanted to have come through on everything we do.”
Trout did not get into specifics regarding the facility’s impact on Health-Ade’s sales and distribution strategy, aside from citing the benefits of having more product on hand.
“I think that if we do our work the way we plan to it will be very evident by this time next year what our strategy was,” he said.
Health-Ade will also continue to have a full-time microbiologist on staff, though Trout indicated the brand’s decision making was not being guided solely by science.
“I don’t want to downplay at all how important science is,” he said. “It’s incredible important. But, having said that, our purpose is to inspire people to trust their mind, body and gut, so that they are happy and healthy. I think science has a role in that, but I think following your gut has a bigger role.”
This marks the second time Health-Ade has used investment capital to increase its production capabilities: In 2013, Health-Ade received an investment from First Beverage Ventures, the venture capital arm of First Beverage Group and a partner of Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) division. The funds allowed the brand to build two small production facilities and hire more employees.