No matter how tough the economic times, coffee lovers won’t part with their morning cup of java. While many companies are facing layoffs and cuts, a southwest Iowa company that makes coffee packaging plans for steady growth in the coming year. Don Romig is plant manager of Fres-co System USA in Red Oak.
"I hesitate to boast that things are going as good as they can be because certainly with the economy the way that it is, we’re faced with challenges but overall, the work is still there," Romig says. "We just need to continue to reduce waste and so forth in the plant so that we can stay healthy." Romig says 99% of what the plant produces is dry coffee packaging, with a small fraction being candy packages.
"We’ve got some challenges in front of us and there’s always the unknowns but the good news is, so far, so good," he says. "Business has been strong and we expect it to stay strong." Nationally-branded customers of Fres-co include Starbucks, Folgers and Millstone coffee. The factory has been in production since 2000, has 75 employees and company officials expect 5% growth in 2009. Romig says Iowans, and Americans, love their coffee, even during a recession.
He says there is a slight shift nationally. "Maybe some of the more expensive brands aren’t doing as well," he says. "People are trying to save a few dollars so they’re going to a cheaper coffee but the advantage that Fres-co has is, we have 85 to 90% of the coffee market, so our business shifts from perhaps one customer to another."
During a recent trip down the Hy-Vee grocery aisle, Romig says he recognized that 80% of the coffee packages came from Fres-co plants either in Red Oak or the other company plant in Pennsylvania.