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News Maryland Harford County Aberdeen Havre De Grace

Frito-Lay plans to expand Aberdeen plant

Frito-Lay Inc., maker of such well-known snacks as Doritos, Tostitos, Cheetos and SunChips, plans to expand its Aberdeen plant and hire 100 more employees, which would make the Hickory Drive facility among the company's largest sites nationwide.

Aberdeen's city council approved a concept plan Monday for a 164,244-square-foot warehouse to be added to the snack manufacturer's existing 360,736-square-foot building.

The expansion would make Aberdeen Frito-Lay's eighth site to get an addition of more than $60 million in the United States, Rich Smucker, the Aberdeen plant manger, told the council.

The expansion also will mean hiring about 100 full-time employees, Smucker said.

The company was granted a height variance for the property by the city's zoning board of appeals, he said. The proposed building height is 78 feet.

Construction on the addition, which would be behind the existing building, could start as soon as this year and be finished in 2015, Smucker said.

The new area would be used strictly for distribution.

Smucker told the city council the company is "very proud" to be a valuable partner with the city and the expansion is "a reflection of our commitment to the community."

The existing Frito-Lay plant in Aberdeen has 379 employees and makes nearly the whole range of Frito-Lay products, Harford County Economic Development director Jim Richardson said Tuesday.

The expansion would allow the plant to make every available Frito-Lay snack, he said.

"I think it's one of their largest sites, and the other positive is they are so well-positioned in the New York-Boston-Washington [, D.C.] corridor that this really is an important facility for them," Richardson said.

"I think it's a great addition," he continued. "We are just seeing a good uptick in the whole manufacturing side in the economy lately."

"A lot of what they are going to be doing is distribution with the expansion, so you don't get as many employees with that, but what it does is make this site a hub for manufacturing and distribution," he said.

Frito-Lay is owned by PepsiCo and generates about one-third of PepsiCo's annual profit, according to Forbes magazine. The division was voted the 40th most valuable brand in the world last year by Forbes.

City Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young said she is glad Frito-Lay expects to hire 100 employees, as the original number city officials were told was much smaller.

"Indeed you are planning a big expansion with this," Young told the company representatives.

Smucker said the building is effectively operating 24 hours a day, as shipments are made at all hours, but typically vehicles leave late in the evening or early in the morning to avoid affecting rush-hour traffic.

Councilwoman Ruth Elliott thanked the company for contributing to Aberdeen's Golden Age Club and the Senior Center.

Smucker said: "We are glad to help and it's nice to be part of the community."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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