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Fruits of their labor

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Mt. Jackson Town Council recently approved Bowman Andros Products LLC’s plan to increase capacity to make applesauce pouches. The expansion would add about 50 jobs. Rich Cooley/Daily file

Mt. Jackson OKs Bowman's plan to expand applesauce plant, add about 50 jobs

By Preston Knight -- pknight@nvdaily.com

MT. JACKSON -- Bowman Andros Products LLC has embarked on an expansion that will increase its capacity to make a new applesauce product and add about 50 employees.

The Town Council recently passed a rezoning and special-use permit for the company, formerly Bowman Apple Products, to add to a previously annexed portion of the property.

On Monday, Terry Stoehr, the chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Bowman Andros, said the new building will be a 27,000-square-foot expansion of the applesauce plant, and construction is pegged to cost $1.1 million.

In the spring, Bowman Apple teamed with Andros et Cie, a leading European fruit processor based in southwest France. It was that partnership that sparked the expansion, Stoehr said. The new building, which is scheduled to be finished by mid-March, increases the capacity to make applesauce pouches, a newer technology to the United States that Andros introduced to Bowman.

"Consumer demand is out there," Stoehr said.

Town Manager Charlie Moore called the company's situation a "very good story," from the expansion of jobs in the down economy to a new product to a larger warehouse. He said it retained all local employees even as ownership changed. Andros owns 70 percent of the business, while employees own the rest.

"It's been a good partnership for both partners," Stoehr said. "It's been very pleasant."

In a news release announcing the joint venture in May, Jean-Luc Heymans, Andros' fruit division director, heralded the contributions the Bowman family had made to the industry as "truly remarkable," and noted that the French company had looked to merge with a "great" apple business in North America.

This summer, Stoehr brought samples of the applesauce pouches to a council meeting and informed members that management positions have been added with additional employees to follow, according to meeting minutes. He also pledged to the Planning Commission that the company will include extensive landscaping along the sides of the new building and along U.S. 11, consistent with the U.S. 11 corridor plan and Main Street guidelines.

Stoehr said Monday that Bowman Andros was "very fortunate" to be expanding, given the economic climate.

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