Since the 1800s, the Schweid family has been providing the New York area with high-quality beef. Schweid & Sons, started by David Schweid in 1978, has become a leader in supplying high-quality burgers to restaurants throughout the country. The company, headquartered in Carlstadt, N.J., has moved outside of its Northeast home for the first time, establishing a new processing facility in College Park, Ga. The company officially dedicated this facility on March 30. The company kicked off operations by inviting town officials, contractors who worked on the building renovation, employees and others to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception. Along with several varieties of gourmet sliders, a burger-shaped cake was served to guests.
The new, 66,000 square foot facility is Schweid & Sons first-ever expansion and is contributing to the revitalization of College Park by creating 90+ jobs. The facility utilizes-state-of-the-art equipment to produce high-quality fresh and frozen products; cut down transportation time for customers located in the south, south central and lower Midwest regions of the United States, and ensure fresher product on a quicker timeline.
Jamie Schweid, president and CEO, says that the project has been in the works for a couple of years.
“We wanted to make the product closer to our customers, allow for a fresher product and shorter lead times,” he explains, adding that the company worked with a real estate firm to locate an ideal location. “What they came up with was the Atlanta market, because of how much of our business is concentrated in Florida, Alabama and the Carolinas, and from there it would allow us to get into a tremendous untapped market, which is Texas.”
The expansion comes at a time when Schweid & Sons is growing at a tremendous rate. Its foodservice business is growing along with the popularity of the “better burger” restaurants, such as Five Guys and Bobby’s Burger Palace, and its retail business could potentially triple this year.
“We have great products, and we fill a void within the retail marketplace,” Schweid notes. “That void is premium, high-quality blends within the retail marketplace. They’re just not there.”
The building, formerly a distribution center, was thoroughly renovated. Along with adding 40,000 square feet of refrigeration and freezer space, Schweid & Sons added cutting-edge technology, including a fully automated grinding line and robotic palletizers.
“I’ve traveled the world to find technology that’s going to work best within our organization,” Schweid notes.
Part of the difficulty in finding suitable equipment is that Schweid & Sons doesn’t focus on large production runs and identical product. It prides itself on developing customized products.
“We like to call our business efficiently inefficient, where we work with our customers – our restaurant partners, our retail partners – to really find specific products that fit their needs,” he explains. “In some cases it may not a one-size-fits-all product. We’ll make small runs, we’ll make blends of burgers that can be regional or national in scope for our customers.”
One of the advantages to the College Park location is its close proximity to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, which will allow Schweid and his brother Brad, executive vice president, to travel easily between Schweid & Sons’ locations. As this is the first time the company has moved beyond its New Jersey home, Schweid spoke with others in the industry about the challenges of having a second location in another part of the country. The answer always came back to the people.
“Does a Perdue live in every single plant that they open? Does a Tyson live in every single plant that they open? No, they don’t! They hire great people to work within the organization to help them run their business,” he says.
Schweid says that the College Park management team was assembled about a year ago, as work on the facility was beginning. That timeframe allowed the team to become fully versed in Schweid & Sons’ operations and its culture.
“The head of this plant lived in Jersey for six months, training with all of our different departments within the company and sitting down with everyone to see what makes this a successful, thriving company,” he adds.
The College Park location was also desirable because of the opportunity to help revitalize the community. Schweid says that the family did not want to create a silo business, standing separate from its community. The company invited community officials and contractors who worked on the building renovation to its ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Part of what we’re doing [at the grand opening] is continuing to engage with the community and create a relationship to help the community, work with the community and improves not only the business but also our employees and the people of College Park,” he says.