Ed Hemphill isn’t one to back away from a challenge. So, when this president of Honeyville, Inc. was presented with an opportunity to move its corporate headquarters to Ogden, along with the purchase of a huge new distribution facility, he wanted to make the move. Once he had the board’s approval, it was all systems go and now things are taking shape with the site on north end of the Business Depot Ogden.
Honeyville got its start by Lowell Sherratt Senior in the 1950s when Sherratt bought a mill in Parowan to crack grain for a feed company in Southern California where he was originally from. He soon moved his company to Honeyville, Utah and officially named his fledgling business Honeyville, after the small Utah town. The company still uses the old mill there today. By 1973, Sheratt continued to expand and brought his company back to Southern California and finally settled in Rancho Cucamonga in 1988.
Another distribution center was added in North Salt Lake in 1981 and the corporate headquarters settled in Brigham City. Sherratt’s son, Lowell Sherratt Jr. took the reigns when his father retired. When Sherratt Junior retired in 2015, longtime employee Hemphill was asked to be president. Sherratt Junior is still alive and is on the Board of Directors.
They also have distribution centers in Tempe, Arizona and Ohio. The Salt Lake Center closed in the last couple of weeks to support the much larger distribution center in Ogden.
At the start, much of the focus of the company was on pet food. And while some pet food is still produced in small portions, items like cake mixes, pancake mixes, oatmeal and mixes for tortillas have taken center stage.
“We distribute a lot of products and each location specializes in different things,” Hemphill said. For example, 65 to 70 percent of the Rancho Cucamonga site’s distribution is what Hemphill refers to as “tortilla ria” product. In Utah, there is more distribution of different flour-based products but he can see that the tortilla ria products have a great possibility for growth here. “Chances are if you buy a tortilla chip, our hands are in it,” Hemphill said with a big grin.
They produce the product for big names like Quaker and then the companies label it with their own labels. Sometimes they produce items for competing companies too. “You won’t see the Honeyville brand, but we produce so many items that you eat every day,” he said.
The Ogden site has the same footprint as the Rancho Cucamonga site with the addition of some operations and the corporate headquarters. It sits at 212,000 square feet. They will have a full mix plant. “We are not afraid to try new things. A client recently wanted a cookie. So, we learned how to make a cookie,” he said with a grin. In one of the rooms there are mixers and baking items for a large kitchen that is being built. “If we make a pancake mix, we make the pancakes from the mix to try it and make sure it tastes good,” Hemphill said. “I need to make sure my office is far away from here,” he said with a laugh as he showed the space. They will also have a custom-built heat treatment oven that kills all bacteria in foods so things like cookie dough can be eaten raw. “There are many regulations now-a-days, but we work to meet all of them and we do,” he noted.
The great thing about the new Ogden center is the ability to build separate spaces for everything. “We have to be so careful with allergen control,” Hemphill said. It is something Honeyville has always been very aware of because Sherratt Junior’s wife had a gluten intolerance long before it has become so prevalent. “We are careful. We have to be,” Hemphill said.
This new, adaptable location will employ up to 100. They probably won’t hit that in the first 3 years, but it is the plan for the future.
There is still a lot of construction at the Ogden center, but things are moving quickly with different parts of the distribution to be open later this month and many other spaces, including the corporate office, set for a September ribbon cutting. Also included will be a retail store where many items will be sold at discount prices. Hemphill is hoping that will open in September. The retail store has been quite popular at other distribution centers.
“The Boyer Group is awesome,” Hemphill said of the exchange of the property. He also had high praise for EK Bailey who is doing the construction work. “They are amazing and they have been great to work with,” he added. He is thrilled at all the prospects the Ogden site holds, one of which being the rail lines at the Business Depot. “We are not set with it yet, but I plan to utilize it,” he said. “We are thrilled to be in Ogden.”