Flagship Food to expand in ABQ; up to 300 jobs possible

Flagship Food to expand in ABQ; up to 300 jobs possible

The California-based food company that owns 505 Southwestern has decided to plant deeper roots in Albuquerque. Flagship Food Group officials on Tuesday said the company would launch a manufacturing plant next year in Albuquerque to make 505 products, as well as other foods from its Comida del Sol line.

The factory — which will be at a 79,000-square-foot facility that formerly housed Albuquerque Tortilla Co. — will hire 125 employees at the outset. Most will be line-worker positions that start at $9 an hour with benefits, according to Carlos Angulo, chief operating officer for Flagship North America.

The new employees will join about 25 Flagship workers already making 505 Southwestern salsa and chile sauces in Albuquerque.

Flagship CEO Rob W. Holland said the new Albuquerque site could employ as many as 300 people within the next few years. It will be Flagship’s largest manufacturing plant.

Holland said the company — which sells food products to major retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and restaurant chains like Domino’s — had considered other locations, such as Nevada and Texas.

“Candidly, we were looking all over the country, and it was sort of on a whim that we ended up in New Mexico because of our 505,” Holland said in an interview. “Our 505 was the seed that grew into this facility.

“It’s a brand that’s growing quickly, that we loved to death. We needed a bigger home for it. We said, ‘Wait a minute. Rather than just doing 505, why don’t we do more of our products here?’”

Flagship bought the retail side of 505 Southwestern from Albuquerque businessman Roy Solomon several years ago. Solomon sold the associated manufacturing operation to Flagship last year.

Flagship officials said at a news conference today they began evaluating Albuquerque as a potential factory site about a month ago and credited Albuquerque Economic Development, state and local officials for the project coming together so quickly.

The Bernalillo County Commission has given initial approval for $10.25 million in industrial revenue bonds to acquire and equip the Flagship plant. The company is responsible for repaying the bonds, but the deal includes some tax breaks.

Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday said the state was contributing $150,000 to help Flagship upgrade its facility. “What this business needed is a marquee global manufacturing headquarters, and this is it,” Holland said at the news conference.