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Flagship Foods expansion to bring about 200 jobs


Gov. Susana Martinez announced Monday morning the expansion of Flagship Food Group on Albuquerque’s westside that is expected to employ more than 150 people. Pictured is president Rob Holland, holding some of the products made by the company. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Flagship Food Group, a producer of Mexican-style frozen food and an array of premium sauces and salsas, has planted a second flag in the Albuquerque area to keep up with worldwide demand for its 505 Southwestern brand.

Company officials were joined by Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday to announce that Flagship will invest nearly $3 million to help transform an empty warehouse into its new distribution hub. Located at 530 Airport Drive NW, the new space and an expansion at its manufacturing plant will add about 200 new employees to its local workforce on top of the 200 it already has, according to the company.

Flagship has signed a ten-year lease to occupy 76,000 square feet at the Rio Grande Distribution Center in the Meridian Business Park, which formerly housed L-3 Communications, a defense contractor.

The new warehouse, which is expected to be operational by early next year, will feature one of the state’s largest cold storage freezers — about half the footprint at the site. Most of the new jobs at the distribution center will be warehouse and trucking positions, paying $13 and up, plus benefits.

The company also will spend an additional $1.5 million, raised from investors, to add 100 jobs at its manufacturing facility at Desert Surf NE.

The Airport Drive facility will also be the site of 505 Southwestern’s research & development team. A test kitchen will be on site to whip up new flavors and extensions to the line, such as torilla chips.

While Flagship will pick up the tab for most of the construction, new equipment and other tenant improvements, the state will provide $550,000, courtesy of the state’s closing fund, known as the Local Economic Development Act, or LEDA,  a tool that allows the state to help companies looking to expand their businesses.

“We will continue to do everything we can to bring companies to New Mexico and help existing busineses to grow and succeed,” said Martinez. She said Flagship’s food line is not only branded as a New Mexico True product on its labels, but the firm also generates additional economic activity by purchasing from local suppliers.

The expansion also means an estimated 100 construction jobs.

505 Southwestern produces $70 million in sales, accounting for nearly 30 percent of Flagship’s $240 million in total sales, the company said.

Colorado-based Flagship Food Group is a global, diversified food company serving the retail, club store, and food service channels across a broad array of product lines. In addition to 505 Southwestern, its brands include TJ Farms, Lilly B’s, 5, Chris & Pitts,and Su Ming.

It serves as a supplier to private-label customers, such as its Trader Jose’s salsa line.

“We are grateful for the support and business-friendly environment that New Mexico has given us,” said Flagship CEO Rob Holland. “Our New Mexico-made products have helped us to grow internationally — from London to Los Angeles.”

He said the company has “basically tripled its distribution” since opening its manufacturing plant in Albuquerque three years ago, prompting the need for expanded warehousing/distribution.

With the increased capacity, the company will have less need to warehouse its perishable products in nine storage facilities around the U.S., said Carlos Angulo, chief operating officer.

“That means more jobs for New Mexico,” said Angulo.