us to grow … and we have additional,
flexible production lines to evolve to
the needs of our customers. We can go
beyond the new beverage lines that we’ve
installed, whenever the time is right. We
have the room to expand. Right now, we
feel like we’ve set the company up for a
strong future growth platform.
FM: How many jobs has the company
added as a result of the expansion?
KS: We’ve gone from 355 employees in
2015 to well over 600 employees in 2018.
We’ve added a substantial number of both
direct production jobs and indirect jobs
supporting the business — all in northern
Illinois. We expect to continue to hire good
talent right here from our community
… We’re really trying to support the
community as we move forward with the
addition of jobs and the creation of good
manufacturing labor positions for the
people in the market.
FM: How would you describe the
company’s focus, and how has it adapted
to trends in the industry?
KS: As far as where we’re focused as a
company — it’s beverage production. The
beverage category, it’s booming. If you
look at the ready-to-drink coffee market,
it’s grown exponentially; it has outpaced
all of the other shelf-stable beverages in
the marketplace. We’re striving to become
a leading supplier to that market, and
we’ve expanded as such.
We’ve put two additional beverage
lines in to support growth in the future.
We’re now well-positioned to serve our
customers’ needs as they stand and as
they grow in the future.
The trends that we’re capitalizing on
are the beverage trends, the ready-to-drink coffee trends and some of the new
dips and sauces that are coming out in
the marketplace. We see cold brew as an
emerging trend and a customer favorite
right now, and it’s a natural extension of
the ready-to-drink coffee energy drinks.
It’s innovative, it has solid flavors and
mouthfeel to capitalize on consumer
demand. The ready-to-drink (market) has
really experienced a transition similar
to the craft beer revolution … all new
flavors, ingredients and the processes
are keeping customers thirsty for new
entrants into the marketplace, and it’s
attracting what I would consider nontraditional coffee consumers to the space,
bringing them out of the coffee shops and
into the retail space for future growth.
We really believe that another key area
for us is the carbonated and nitrogen-infused products that are going to be
the next big trends. We are positioning
ourselves as a company to capitalize on
those trends. You’ve seen some those in
the marketplace already.
And a final extension that we’re looking
at is functional, better-for-you options
across all of our products and brands that
are giving rise to a customer landscape
that is more informed than ever on the
quality of the products that are out in the
marketplace and wanting a good product.
If I were to sum it up, we’ve built
a company for future growth, we’ve
significantly expanded our facility,
we are adding jobs and capital to the
marketplace, we’re maintaining our focus
on the key trends in the marketplace that
continue to provide us growth, and we feel
like we’re well-positioned for the future.
FM: What other areas of the company has
the business invested in, in recent years?
KS: We’ve invested in all functional
areas of the business including research
and development, technology, quality,
sanitation, maintenance, sales and
customer service. All functional areas of
the company have been invested in for
What’s really important is, we’re a
natural resource for our customers. We
have access to data and trend information.
We share that with our customers, and we
can guide them in their programs, which
is one of the ways that we’re becoming
leaders in the marketplace. We have solid
technical skill-sets and quality skill-sets
that really are driving exponential growth
Berner added multiple retort
machines (pictured) along
with brand new, state-of-the-art processing and packaging
equipment as part of its recent