One of Haverhill's largest and most well-known businesses is growing so rapidly that it has already outgrown the 90,000-square-foot factory it built in the Ward Hill Business Park just two years ago.
Three years ago Cedars Foods was operating in a 20,000-square-foot building in the same business park. The decision to build a new facility was purely due to growth.
"We needed bigger production capabilities as we began to sell outside New England," said Dominick Frocione, vice president of sales.
The new building was something Cedars had dreamed about, said Frocione, adding that the company designed the new space to be "much more flexible, to allow the company to do things above and beyond what we thought our needs would be."
So when the company went ahead and built a new state-of-the-art home, clearly visible from Interstate 495, company executives never dreamed that building — more than four times the size — would quickly become obsolete.
One reason for the company's rapid growth is that, according to national rankings, the Mediterranean foods industry is the fastest growing product category right now. The company makes hummus and tabbouleh — both very hot items for healthy eaters.
"We're in the right category — our products taste good, and are healthy — and it's the right time," Frocione said.
The company, founded in Lawrence as a family business, has gone from a manufacturer of ethnic foods to a major player in the mainstream Mediterranean foods market, shipping, packing and making all products out of that large building in Ward Hill.
Cedars products are turning heads outside Haverhill, too.
Presently, Cedars is part of a Disney-related marketing campaign: The reissue of the animated film "Aladdin" spurred a partnership between the media giant and Cedars, making it a major name in the mainstream market.
"It's great for a small company to be affiliated with Disney," said Frocione.
Cedars was even mentioned on an Oprah Winfrey show that focused on healthy and tasty snacks and such media mentions have given their products a "lift in marketplace, " according to Frocione.
And in September, Cedars will be featured on the Food Network program "Unwrapped."
The only negative?
"We wish there was more land so we could expand," said Frocione. "Eventually we will outgrow the ability to keep everything — production, sales, marketing and shipping — under this roof."
Cedars has grown from a local company to a company the ships nationwide, and in the coming years it will go international as there are plans to open a facility in Greece.
"We will bring in Greek products from Europe that aren't going to be made here in the U.S.," Frocione said. "We'll be multinational. We'll produce in Europe to sell in the United States."
Among the products that will be produced in the European facility will be Greek-style dips, Greek yogurt, and Feta cheeses.
"The Mediterranean category is hot," said Frocione. "It's nice to be in the right category at the right time."