ADRIAN — Nutritional supplement manufacturer Uckele Health and Nutrition is in the midst of a $5 million investment into what was formerly two Venchurs facilities.
The Blissfield company purchased two buildings in January on the Adrian’s east side and intends to expand its production while also moving some operations from its headquarters.
CEO Mike Uckele told The Daily Telegram the company intends to move shipping and receiving to Adrian, freeing up more space in Blissfield for manufacturing.
Uckele acquired 150,000 square feet of space in the purchase, between the two Venchurs facilities. It’s more than the 100,000 square feet the company has in Blissfield.
The larger building is about 120,000 square feet. One side will be used for soft chew manufacturing for pets. The other side will produce nutritional capsules and powders for people.
Soft chew production is currently housed in Uckele’s Toledo facility at 1400 Summit St. The CEO said soft chews has been an area where the company has seen considerable growth.
“It’s grown so fast we’ve outgrown our Toledo facility,” Uckele said.
The company is moving the entirety of its Toledo production to Adrian and will close that facility. Between 60 and 70 jobs will move to Adrian, too. Uckele said some of their workers also plan to relocate to Adrian.
Uckele employs about 300 people. The CEO said there are plans to move even more employees to Adrian, eventually having an even split between the two locations.
The move from Toledo to Adrian is expected to be completed by Jan. 1. Both sides of manufacturing in Adrian are expected to be operating by the second quarter of 2021 with some production beginning in the next six weeks. Office space in Adrian is already being utilized.
“We’re looking forward to getting in and getting going,” Uckele said.
Venchurs closed in August 2019, leading to 152 people being laid off. The supply chain management firm was founded in 1973 by John Wyatt Sr and began providing customized packaging for automotive and other vehicle manufacturers. It later became a supply-chain management and logistics services provider.
Uckele serves on the board of trustees at Adrian College. It’s there he said he first became aware of the available Venchurs properties. A chat with the realtor and a quick look later and Uckele was sold.
“It didn’t take long to figure out it was perfect for us,” he said.
The timing was perfect as well. There were plans for building expansion in both Blissfield and Toledo, prior to the purchase.
Uckele described the facility as a “big open box.” Essentially a blank canvas, it gives the company plenty of possibilities moving forward.
One possibility is soft gels. Though not on the production line, Uckele said it’s something that is on the table moving forward. More space is also attractive to clients, he said.
The expansion comes at a good time too. While other businesses have struggled, Uckele said the company has had a hard time keeping up with demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Most of Uckele’s business is on the animal side. With quarantine and stimulus money, the CEO said pet owners, especially those with horses, are spending more on their animals. Couple this with people wanting to be more health conscious and the ingredients are there for increased demand.
“It’s been challenging for us,” Uckele said. “That’s why the Adrian facility is so important.”