|Dennis Bobita had no idea a building was being named after him.|
Freshpet first moved into 176 N. Commerce Way at Lehigh Valley Industrial Park in 2013, expanding an existing 60,000 sq ft building to over 90,000 sq ft with a $25 million investment. In addition to feeding your pets, this company provides jobs for 100 people.
|Freshpet President Richard Thompson (left) with|
retiring Dennis J Bobita, after whom research facility is named
President Richard Thompson is the originator of Meow Mix, which he calls "McDonald's for cats." He sold that brand to invest in better, healthier products that use no preservatives and must be refrigerated. His company also supplies free food to the Colonial Regional Police Department's K-9 unit, contributed $6,500 to its upkeep and paid for most of Hanover Township's recently established dog park. It has done all of this without any taxpayer subsidies.
Freshpet has now opened a new, 50,000 square-foot, research and development facility at 146 N. Commerce Way. It's located next to its company headquarters. It's named the Dennis Bobita Innovation Center in honor of the company's VP of Research and Development, Dennis J. Bobita.
“When I first started here, our research would involve four people gathered around in a small office and that’s it, so to see what it has become today is really amazing,” said Bobita, who had a 35-year career in the pet food industry. He will still work as a consultant for FreshPet.
Taking over for Bobita will be the company's new VP for research and development, Lynn Lie, who said she looks forward to "overseeing the development of new and exciting recipes for Freshpet that will make pets happy, keep them healthy and provide ease and convenience to owners when it comes to feeding their loved ones.”
|Business Matters' Tony Iannelli and LVEDC CEO|
Don Cunningham on hand for grand opening.
Called an "Innovation Center,"the building will be used to develop new products, enhance existing products, and make packaging more efficient.
“When you grow a business like Freshpet, with the uniqueness and the quality of our business, it’s really important to have innovation,” said Richard Thompson, CEO of Freshpet, Inc. “So to have this center where we can actually do this without being in a cramped office building someplace on a desktop will be a huge thing for us.”
The research and development center is expected to create new jobs, but exact figures were not yet available. But the 32,000 square-foot expansion of the main manufacturing facility will create up to 60 new jobs. The project remains on schedule, and FreshPet is currently training new employees for the plant.
Freshpet dog and cat food can be found in more than 14,000 retail stores across the U.S. and Canada.
Lehigh Valley Economic Development CEO Don Cunningham, who was on hand for the opening of the Innovation Center, along with Hanover Township Manager Jay Finnigan and Supervisor John Nagle, said this is precisely the kind of new manufacturing he sees taking place all over the Lehigh Valley.