Kar's Nuts scored a home run when it hosted an "Opening Day" at its new Madison Heights, Mich. facility recently. The occasion was used to welcome local officials, neighbors, customers and industry friends to its state-of-the-art production facility.
The event drew the attention of the local media and resulted in numerous requests for tours from area schools and other organizations.
The 131,000-square-foot facility, a former steel processing plant, was renovated to house administration offices and handles 10 computerized packaging lines capable of meeting the increasing volume for Kar's Nuts products.
Guests meet Tiger legends
Guests enjoyed getting their pictures taken with Detroit Tiger legends Frank Tanana and Willie Horton, and the Tigers' mascot, Paws. Guests were also invited to take a self-guided, educational tour about nuts and production.
The event was complete with an organist playing ballpark tunes, playbacks of old baseball games piped throughout the building, door prizes including Tiger tickets, as well as plenty of ballpark refreshments, and, of course, a wide variety of Kar's nuts.
Nick Nicolay, Kar's Nuts president and CEO, gave an opening "pitch" about how Kar's history is closely tied to baseball.
Nicolay stated that the Karpe family began the business in 1933 by selling home-roasted nuts at old Briggs Stadium, then home of the Detroit Tigers. In 1946, the company moved to a Ferndale, Mich. location before moving to Madison Heights earlier this year.
A historical overview
"When I look at this new facility, I think about how far we've come in the last 70 years," said Nicolay, whose father bought the company from the Karpe family in 1967. "I'm very excited to share our success with our new neighbors and our customers."
Nicolay, who assumed ownership in 1995, also introduced company officers, and noted that nuts have become more popular in recent years as the scientific community has recognized the product's nutritional benefits.
"Nuts are good for you," he said
Nicolay then let both Tanana and Horton relate some of their favorite memories from their baseball careers.
New building has more space
Kar's facility provides twice the space of the previous Ferndale location, and includes new equipment that will boost production and quality control. The new building makes use of greater automation. Machines now fill boxes that were once filled manually.
While the facility packages snacks in sizes ranging from one-half-ounce to a pound, most packages are for single-serve use. The facility packages 1.2 million bags per day and uses more than 13,000 miles of packaging film per year.
Graphics outside of the production area make learning about different types of nuts a lot of fun. Large windows provide an exciting behind-the-scenes look of each step of production, from roasting to packaging. A bird's eye view of the packaging process is offered through windows on the second floor in what is fondly called, "The Peanut Gallery." The gallery includes additional fun facts about the Kar's plant and its processes.
Free tours for groups
The free tour runs approximately 45 minutes to one hour. The tour is offered to schools and organizations on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. Although the tour is designed for all age groups, all visitors must be at least 10 years of age, with one adult chaperone per 10 children under the age of 18. Groups of 30 or less are invited to schedule a tour.
Kar's offers a variety of tasteful and nutritious nuts and dried fruits for sale in convenience stores, vending machines and club stores across the United States.
Kar's currently processes nearly 20 million pounds of product annually.
Kar's new building is located at 1200 E. 14 Mile in Madison Heights, Mich.
For information, please visit www.karsnuts.com or call 800-527-6887.