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New owners to restart Hostess bakery in Emporia

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 25, 2013, at 6:31 p.m.

Hostess Brands, under new ownership after it was sold in bankruptcy this winter, is starting the process of reopening the bakery in Emporia.

The company will hire about 250 people for the plant in the coming weeks, starting in about two weeks, with the expectation of starting operations in July. Twinkies and Ho Hos could be back on the shelf by late July, said Mike Cramer, executive vice president of Hostess Brands.

The bakery, at 1525 Industrial Road, will produce a full assortment of Hostess snack products.

Employment is expected to grow to more than 300 over the next several years. The plant employed more than 500 when it closed in late November.

Hostess was purchased by two private equity firms, Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos and Co. Metropoulos typically also operates the companies, making them more efficient and then selling them. It has bought and operated 70 companies, Cramer said.

The former maker of Hostess had 11 bakeries. The new owners bought only five to restart the company.

They picked Emporia because of its central location, its closeness to their Kansas City and Dallas headquarters, its ability to be expanded, and its strong potential workforce, Cramer said.

He said the new ownership had been planning over the last few months and then started cleaning and renovating once they got the keys to the building April 9.

“It’s pretty impressive how fast they are moving,” said Jon Geitz, chairman of the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas and vice mayor of the city of Emporia.

The amount of state incentives used or sought by the new company was not immediately released.

The planned reopening is good news for a city that has experienced job losses from several larger employers during the recession, said Kent Heermann, director of the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas .

“We have had our run of luck, unfortunately it’s been all bad,” he said. “I think this is going to start a run of good luck.”

Hostess Brands will start with temporary workers, but Cramer said that was only because of the rush at startup.

Production jobs are advertised at $11.30 per hour and maintenance jobs at $17.43 per hour.

Applicants can apply at the KansasWorks office in the Flint Hills Mall in Emporia or go to www.the-arnold-group.com.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhsi@wichitaeagle.com.

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