Norwalk's New Horizons bakery gets ready to modernize, expand

NORWALK Imagine eating an Egg McMuffin without the muffin. Think how incomplete it would taste.
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

NORWALK

Imagine eating an Egg McMuffin without the muffin. Think how incomplete it would taste.

But New Horizons Bakery in Norwalk doesn't just provide the muffins for a delicious breakfast sandwich -- it also provides jobs to about 160 people in the area.

"They are one of our larger manufacturers and provide really good jobs for people," said Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch. "And it's a family-owned factory and they are just remarkable people."

Despite the terrible economic climate, in which companies are laying off workers and slashing benefits and wages, New Horizons is expanding.

The company announced plans last week to invest $3.7 million into upgrading its Woodlawn Avenue facility.

The project is slated to begin by the end of the year and is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2010, vice president Mike Porter said.

The upgrades will be to the company's oven and proofer -- a device which allows the bread to rise -- which are 42 years old. The company is investing in new high-efficiency equipment.

As New Horizons prepares to grow, it is also using $220,000 in grant money from the Ohio Department of Development and Ohio Rail Development Commission to build a rail spur to better transport ingredients.

The grant was the only one the state awarded to a company in this part of Ohio.

Norwalk officials hail the renovation project as just the kind of vote of confidence this region needs to illustrate its enduring economic viability.

"This is outstanding news for the entire Norwalk community. It is truly something to celebrate," said Ellen Heinz, director of the Norwalk Economic Development Corp. "New Horizons' announcement comes at a time when few communities have area businesses willing to reinvest. We are very fortunate that they chose to reinvest in Norwalk, in Huron County."

City officials said job retention is just as important as job creation, and New Horizon's investment signals the jobs are here to stay.

The rail spur will allow the company to unload flour from rail cars by blowing it through a 325-foot underground pipe that leads into the factory's holding bins.

Until now, New Horizons relied on trucks to cart in the flour from Cleveland. It was a hassle making 14 trips each week, Porter said.

New Horizons employs 260 people, divided between its plants in Norwalk and Fremont, Ind.

The company also feeds millions of people, some of whom set their alarms so they can wake up in time to get a cherished Egg McMuffin.