Mary’s Gone Crackers bringing HQ, 200-plus jobs to Reno
A manufacturer of organic, gluten-free items has gone crackers for the Biggest Little City.
Mary’s Gone Crackers announced Monday that it will build manufacturing operations as well as a research and development facility in Reno. The company will also relocate its headquarters from Chico, Calif. to Northern Nevada.
Gov. Brian Sandoval touted the family-grown company's $35 million in planned capital expenditure, as well as the construction jobs it will create as the facilities are built.
"It's exactly the type of company we want here in Northern Nevada," Sandoval said. "It's about the essence of the American dream."
The company expects construction to be done around October or November. Mary’s Gone Crackers also plans to bring hundreds of jobs with the company to Reno, with average wages of $21.03 per hour. About 200 of the planned positions will be filled by the end of 2017.
“We have already hired 10 new roles, including key managers, to lead this expansion,” said Craig Fraser, vice president of human resources for the company.
Getting Mary’s Gone Crackers’ headquarters in addition to the manufacturing and R&D facility is a big win for the area, said Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. The company also is in the booming organic foods sector, which bodes well for its long-term growth prospects, Kazmierski added.
"Adding 200 jobs to the region with growth potential beyond that is pretty exciting, and you're also adding research and development and a corporate headquarters," Kazmierski said. "When you add pieces of a company here, you're really adding deep roots."
To help close the deal, the company received business incentives from the state in March. The incentives comprise of sales, property and modified business tax abatements worth $2.13 million, according to filings with the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
Founded in 2004, Mary’s Gone Crackers manufactures the No. 1 selling organic and gluten-free cracker brand in the United States, according to EDAWN. The company also exports to Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe. In addition to crackers, the company also makes pretzels and cookies.
The organic, gluten-free food segment is a huge industry that continues to grow, said Mary Waldner, founder and chairman of Mary’s Gone Crackers. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. adults are actively trying to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets, according to Waldner.
“This is not a fad,” Waldner said. “It’s a $15 billion movement.”
The company's entry in two hot food segments — organic and gluten-free — was a classic example of serendipity, Waldner said. The founder's journey into entrepreneurship kicked off when she started baking her signature crackers and sharing them with people. After seeing how much people liked them, Waldner and her husband decided to look into starting a business with the crackers in 1999. By 2004, the couple had raised enough money to get their venture started.
"I only wanted to go organic and gluten-free because that was what I believed in," Waldner said. "Who knew that they would be two of the areas in the food industry known today for growth?"
With the continued success of the product, Mary’s Gone Crackers’ has outgrown its manufacturing facility multiple times, leading to the decision to build a new, bigger building in Reno. The new bakery will be more than 420,000 square feet once finished. The LEED certified-facility, which will be located in the North Valley Commerce Center, is being developed by Panattoni Development and built by Alston Construction.
As the area continues its recovery from the recession, the addition of new jobs to the area is crucial, said Ward 4 Reno City Councilman Paul McKenzie.
“Northern Nevada's economic recovery depends on putting our community back to work," McKenzie said. "Mary's Gone Crackers is committed to bringing hundreds of jobs to our area, and we're excited to see them contribute to Reno's growth.”