LIMA — If you’ve bought some Bob Evans mashed potatoes from the grocery store, chances are the container it came in was made in Lima, and so were the potatoes.
Bob Evans has a facility in the area where it makes the final product. The container comes from deSter, which has a factory located at 1200 E. Kibby in Lima.
deSter has been in Lima only for a short time, but the Belgian company continues to have plans for future growth. Right now it occupies 200,000 square feet of a building that has around an additional 150,000 square feet available.
The Lima location is its first venture into North America.
“Everything is going well,” said Vernon Hines, production manager for the Lima deSter operation. “We have two main customers local to us. We have a couple bigger customers on the horizon in the works. We supply Bob Evans. Another customer we supply is Inno-Pak, but Inno-Pak is a distributor to a bunch of customers.”
The packaging is made specifically to its customers’ needs.
“We make them for retail, and we make them for local grocery stores for Walmarts, for Sam’s Club. So we produce the trays that food goes in, so they take our trays. We produce for Fazoli’s, which is local, we produce those, and then we produce for Bob Evans, which you can get at your local grocery store,” said Hines.
Locally, deSter employs just under 50 workers but plans on adding additional workers soon.
“We are currently working five days a week, but we’re going to go to seven days a week,” Hines said.
Business has been steady for deSter.
“Holidays, obviously, are probably our busiest season, especially with a customer like Bob Evans, but again, the summer is coming up, so family gatherings and cookouts and things like that,” Hines said.
Hines notes the quality of the workers has been great and sees the need for even more workers.
“I’ve been in Lima for 15 years, and you have things come and go, but we’re not going anywhere. I think we have some strong competition when you think about the other big manufacturers around. We are all fighting in the same (labor) pool. So that’s kind of the uphill battle. It’s still, you know, searching for those people that want to come to work every day,” Hines said.
Hourly packing positions start around $12 an hour, but supervisors can make in excess of $25 an hour.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.