Fage expansion heads to completion

JOHNSTOWN – Nearly two years after it began, yogurt manufacturer Fage USA is looking to complete its $120 million expansion project at the Johnstown Industrial Park by fall, a company official said this week.

Fage USA spokesman Russell Evans, who operates out of Boston, said Monday the expected completion date of the ongoing expansion project is “late-September to midOctober.”

Fage USA is expanding its manufacturing facility at 1 Opportunity Drive in the Johnstown Industrial Park, with a huge project that started in November 2012. Company officials said they plan to double production with the new, connected 180,000-square-foot building, increasing Fage’s 240-person work force by 150 employees. The project includes an addition that was being worked on this week, a new parking lot, silos and a whey pre-treatment plant.

The Common Council has worked with Fage to help with administration of two separate $750,000 state grants to help pay for the expansion, but the expansion is largely being paid for by the company itself.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors last August approved a resolution recognizing Fage USA yogurt plant for its “commitment to grow” in the county.

Fage USA constructed its original Greek yogurt production facility in August 2008. Fage has been a “great” local employer, its products have gained “national acclaim and popularity” and it has the third largest market share for Greek-style yogurt in the United States with a 14 percent share, the county said.

“Fage has demonstrated a huge commitment to the Fulton County region,” the resolution said.

City Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said Thursday the city fire department has been very busy with code enforcement for Fage’s project since it got underway in 2012. He said certificates of occupancy, or COs, for some of the work have already begun to be issued by the city to the company.

“We’re actually in the process of doing some of their temporary COs,” Heberer said. “We’re down there four times a day doing different inspections.”

Heberer said his understanding is the project will be completed in September.

The Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility’s ongoing $7 million expansion is also related to the Fage USA expansion. The sewer plant has put in new machinery and equipment to install sewer piping, an equalization tank, process tanks and pumps to accommodate growing business in the area, including expansion of yogurt maker Fage USA at the Johnstown Industrial Park.

Fage, which uses celebrity cook Bobby Flay as a spokesman, boasts about its Johnstown facility on its website. The website states: “Today, Fage owns and operates three production facilities in Greece (for yogurt, dairy desserts, milk, cream and cheese production) and one yogurt production plant in Johnstown, New York, which is the largest of our facilities in terms of production capacity.

Fage is committed to continuing to grow and expand this success story working closely with customers, suppliers and investors. Fage is a company whose name and reputation for quality are trusted by millions of consumers all over the world.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.