Olivia’s Croutons eyes move to Brandon from New Haven and Middlebury

BRANDON — Olivia’s Croutons is hoping to make Brandon its new home.
The New Haven-based crouton company owned by Francie and Dave Caccavo is in the process of buying the Tucel building on Route 73 near the Neshobe School in Brandon.
The couple appeared before the Brandon Development Review Board last Wednesday night regarding a conditional use application to change the use of the existing facility that manufactures brushes to a food manufacturing plant and warehouse space.
“We looked at the town plan and we feel we’re a good fit,” Francine Caccavo told the DRB in her opening remarks Wednesday in the Brandon Town Hall meeting room. “We will bring jobs. We are good citizens.”
In an interview on Friday, Caccavo said there are still several milestones that need to be met before the move is certain, including some financing and permitting. The Caccavos’ deal to purchase the 45,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is scheduled to close on Oct. 8.
If everything falls into place, Olivia’s will move all of its manufacturing operations to Brandon; currently they are split between New Haven and Middlebury.
The crouton company began in 1991 and is named for the couple’s daughter, who was three years old at the time. Within two years, the family moved operations from their home to a commercial kitchen, and by 1999 they had purchased a small building solely for the business.
Growth continued and in 2005, the family and the business moved to a 50-acre farm in New Haven, turning the 1912 dairy barn into the manufacturing and production space.
They began making 100 percent all-natural gluten-free croutons in 2013 out of a dedicated space in Middlebury to compliment the popularity of their 100 percent all-natural regular croutons. Olivia’s and another company share 5,000 square feet of space in the Middlebury facility, which is off Exchange Street.
Caccavo said she plans to split 25,000 square feet of the Tucel building’s interior into two commercial kitchens, one dedicated to the company’s gluten-free products and one to produce the traditional croutons.
Tucel Industries has been at the Forest Dale Road/Route 73 facility since 1970. The company manufactures bristle brushes for cleaning implements such as brooms and scrub brushes used in the food service and janitorial/sanitary maintenance industries. The company specializes in making brush products with bristles that are hygienically fused. The products are 100 percent recyclable and contain no chlorine or nitrogen.
Olivia’s Croutons currently employs roughly 10 people, and Caccavo confirmed that the company would hire more workers once it moves to the Brandon location. In fact, in a handout to the DRB, a graph on projected jobs shows Olivia’s employing 15 full-time office and production workers by next year, and steadily increasing to a projected 27 employees in five years.
And some of those workers may include those currently employed by Tucel.
Joanne Raleigh is vice president of Tucel Industries and attended the DRB meeting on behalf of Tucel owner John Lewis. She said the company fully supports the Caccavos’ plans.
“I believe they would be true assets to the town,” Raleigh told the board. “They are willing to keep some of the employees and that was important to us.”
It is currently unclear how many Tucel employees will make the move to Olivia’s.
In the project hand out, the Caccavos credit Brandon Economic Development Officer Bill Moore with “successfully attracting Olivia’s to the Tucel building and the town of Brandon.”
For his part, Moore enthusiastically advocated for the move at Wednesday’s meeting.
“These are the kind of people and business we want in this town,” he said. “I always hear, ‘We need more jobs, we need more jobs.’ This is the perfect solution. This is an opportunity to have more jobs with low environmental impact. The town of Brandon could not be happier.”
Truck traffic in and out of the facility is not expected to be more than three trucks per day, and will be less in the first few years, and depending on the time of year. A graph in the project packet indicates that the company’s busiest time is September, October and November
As far as odors go, Caccavo said they have never used a filtration system, but have never had any complaints.
“It’s not an offensive odor,” she said with a smile. “You’ll smell, I won’t lie.”
For some, there are worse things than the smell of freshly baked bread products seasoned with parmesan cheese, basil or garlic.
DRB Vice Chair John Peterson said he grew up between two commercial bakeries.
“On baking days, it was wonderful,” he said.
The DRB deliberated following the July 20 hearing and will render a decision on the Caccavos’ application within 30 days.

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