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TruFood in O'Hara to expand, add 100 jobs

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 1:06 p.m.

TruFood Manufacturing Inc., a maker of private-label chocolate, nutrition and food replacement bars, will update its plant in O'Hara and expand into a second plant, adding at least 100 jobs.

Driven by the growing market for nutrition bars, TruFood will more than double its floor space in the Regional Industrial Development Corp. business park, investing more than $12.5 million. Its 215 employees do contract manufacturing for brand-name companies.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our company, employees and community,” CEO Pete Tsudis said in a written statement thanking state officials for financial support. The Department of Community and Economic Development said the company received an offer of a $200,000 grant, $120,000 in job creation tax credits and a $27,000 grant to train employees. In addition, it will use a $3.25 million, seven-year, low-interest loan to buy equipment.

“What we are seeing is that people want portable, healthy snacks, and we are expanding to meet those consumer trends and needs,” Tsudis said.

The expanded plant will produce a baked nutrition bar containing assorted healthy grains, he said.

“The consumer trends are toward healthy consumption, and that is where the market growth is,” he said.

The plant expansion will begin after Nov. 1, and production could start in January. TruFood has begun hiring for jobs expected within three to six months, he said.

The jobs will pay above minimum wage and include production, supervisory and engineering positions.

TruFood, formerly Tsudis Chocolate Co., is a family-owned manufacturer that began producing products in O'Hara in 1985. Tsudis is adding products such as meal replacement bars and changed the company's name to reflect that, he said in July.

Last month, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for 19 alleged violations and levied $87,260 in penalties. OSHA accused TruFood of failing to guard points of operation on machinery, to provide electrical protective equipment and to ensure that containers are marked as hazardous chemicals. OSHA opened its investigation in February when an employee injured his hand and wrist when a machine inadvertently activated as he set it up.

In a statement, Tsudis said the company “always has and always will take the safety and well-being of its employees very seriously.”

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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