The ribbon was cut at Hostess Brands on Wednesday morning by Governor Sam Brownback. The ribbon cutting celebrated the addition of two AutoBake lines to the plant. One of the lines is capable of producing 1,100 Twinkies per minute.
"This is our flagship," Bill Toler, CEO and president of Hostess Brands. "It is our biggest facility, our best facility. It has our lowest costs and highest employee retention, our best trained people. It has really the stars in every measure for us so it is great."
When the Hostess plant reopened in Emporia in 2013 improvements were made and the plant was expanded. The company has remained committed to growing the the workforce and now employees nearly 500 full-time production employees.
"This will be a long-term facility for Hostess," Toler said. "We are proud to be a part of the investment to get the plant back to where it should be. It had been declining over a number of years but now here we are. It's an exciting place to be."
Andrew Jhawar, Apollo Global senior partner says that the success of the plant can be attributed to the handwork of the employees at the Emporia plant.
"All of their efforts and everything they have accomplished here," Jhawar said. "The success of Hostess wouldn't be possible without all the great dedication and service of the team members and leadership here in Emporia."
The Emporia facility is the only plant that produces Twinkies. City commissioner Danny Giefer pointed out that if a person buys a Twinkie in Maine or Idaho or Texas they are buying a little a bit of Emporia.
"We are the only place that makes Twinkies," Giefer said. "If you buy a Twinkie in Maine you can safely say it is made in Emporia. I was at the national league of cities about two weeks ago and I was trying to explain where we live to a delegate from Alabama. I asked if he had ever ate a Twinkie and he had. I said if you have ate a Twinkie it was made in Emporia."
The Emporia plant also produces Hostess Cupcakes, Donettes, Coffee Cakes and other cake products. Jhawar says that they are looking forward to the continued growth of the plant and Hostess Brands as a whole. He thanked the employees for helping to bring back "a bit of Americana to the masses".
Dean Metropoulos, Hostess Brands chairman, says that the plant represents the hard-working values of Kansans and the success that can arise from collaboration.
"I've always been impressed with the work ethic of the mid western community," Metropoulos said. "It is wonderful, it is reliable, it is worth investing behind and that is why it has made this day possible. It is what makes this partnership so valuable."
The partnerships that developed in the process of reopening Hostess Brands are plentiful. Partnerships between the company, the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas, the City of Emporia and Lyon County helped ensure that the reopening and growth was successful.
"My favorite comment was when Dean Metropoulos said it is a model of how a company and community should collaborate," Jon Geitz, mayor of Emporia said. "I took that as the biggest compliment. You can't give much better praise to Emporia than that."
Gov. Brownback offered his congratulations to the community of Emporia and to the employees and owners of Hostess. He spoke to the way Emporia adds a community feel and sense of pride to numerous events throughout the community.
"Things are happening in Emporia," Brownback said. "I was just at the disc golf guys place and he is having a tournament, bringing 900 people to Emporia. Your bike race that you have attracts people globally as well. And you have an annual Twinkie festival now too. You really do a nice job of capturing a local flavor and making it into a great event."