Hostess on track for August test run

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

Matt Hall, vice president of human resources for Hostess Brands, speaks Tuesday to the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County.

A year after inking a $2 million agreement with the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County, Hostess Brands on Tuesday announced it is on track to start testing operations in Gum Springs by the end of next month.

With 30 salary positions filled and an additional 50 hourly employees, training on “dry runs” is expected by late August, said Matt Hall, vice president of human resources for Hostess, during a presentation to the EDCCC. An upcoming hiring event, he added, will target upwards to another 75 hourly employees before the snack manufacturer officially begins production in October.

“We’re definitely trying to make good use of the $2 million that was so graciously arranged [for us], and spending wisely,” Hall said. “Everything is on track.”

Hostess will make good use of the former Danfoss building. “We’ve taken this facility to a whole other level,” Hall said, noting the Donettes made in Clark County will be produced in an energy-efficient manner. Hostess will power their cooking equipment with electricity rather than gas, and there will be “a lot of automation in this facility compared to our others,” Hall said. The Hostess bakery will be fully self-contained, from ingredient intake to shipping.

“I’ve hired all over this country … and this has been a fun experience for us.”

— Matt Hall, Hostess Brands

Asked whether the locally made products would be shipped from Gum Springs to the company’s wholesale or retail customers, Hall noted that the snack cakes made here will be first hauled by truck to Hostess’s shipping headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas. With an average output of 280,000-300,000 cases per week, Hall estimated upwards to 80 outbound trucks per day would take shipments to Kansas.

Hall fielded additional questions about the jobs the company is creating locally. With most of the hourly employees from Clark County, the remaining pool of candidates has been a regional one, with people from Prescott, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Hot Springs and Sparkman.

“I’ve hired all over this country and in many different places,” Hall said, “and [hiring in Clark County] has been a fun experience for us: the candidates, the quantity we’re getting … It’s very refreshing.”