A Ferndale manufacturer known for its sweet desserts is building a bigger facility in Blaine.
Earlier this month Chuckanut Bay Foods paid $396,644 to the city of Blaine for 2.28 acres on the former airport property near the Pacific Highway border crossing. The company, which has 90 employees, plans to build a 20,000-square-foot facility that should be ready sometime next fall, said Matt Roth, who owns the company with his wife Julie, Dave Loeppky and Sharon Loeppky. The company currently has about 7,000 square feet of space in two different buildings in Ferndale.
The company originally planned to build a facility in Ferndale last year, but as it started going through the process they realized it would be expensive to put in a variety of needed infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure is already in place at the Blaine property, cutting down on cost and construction time.
“It’s nothing negative about Ferndale; it just came down to costs,” Roth said, adding that their focus was to remain in Whatcom County. The company also looked for an existing building, but couldn’t find a space that fit their needs.
The move is a big deal for Blaine, which has been trying to attract companies to its 32.67 acres of city-owned property that used to be home to the airport until 2008. Mercer Distribution bought three acres of property in 2010 for a distribution facility. The city has received several calls about warehousing options for the property, but the city council has been interested in companies that provide higher employment numbers, said Dave Wilbrecht, city manager of Blaine.
Known for its cheesecake products, Chuckanut Bay has been in growth mode; it has products in 2,500 stores under different labels. One of Chuckanut’s most popular products is the single-serve cheesecake, which is a way for people to have that occasional celebratory treat without having to buy a regular size cheesecake.
With the new facility, Chuckanut Bay is also working on new products related to desserts beyond cheesecake. Employment-wise, the company has steadily grown: In 2008, when the current owners purchased the company, it had two employees.