Bar-U-Eats opens new production facility near Hayden, continues to grow
The founders of Bar-U-Eat, Sam Nelson and Jason Friday, see potential in a small, nondescript building just off U.S. Highway 40 near Hayden.
It’s where they plan to locate a production facility that will make millions of organic granola bars, crafted to help keep people moving.
“This will be our next step,” Friday said of the new 5,600-square-foot facility at 11730 U.S. Highway 40, with 1.34 acres to expand.
“Once we get the equipment and everything in here, we’ll conclude making (the bars) by hand, which we’re still doing to this day, and be able to have the equipment infrastructure employees to make this a full-functioning operation,” Friday continued.
According to Nelson, the changes will allow Bar-U-Eat to go from making about 100,000 bars per year to a new operating capacity they estimate will produce 6 million bars per year. Currently, all the bars are created in leased commissary kitchens in Routt County, where each bar is handmade and hand packaged.
“Since everything is made by hand and packaged by hand, 100,000 is a lot,” Nelson said. “But we see a lot of room for growth, and we think this thing could be really big.”
The business partners said the company have products in 50 Natural Grocers stores and more than 150 stores across the country. They had to shut down production for three months during COVID-19 but said Bar-U-Eat has experienced its greatest growth to date starting in spring 2021.
“In April, we introduced new packaging, a new line of products and new flavors,” Friday said.
The business partners and their customers are not the only ones invested in Bar-U-Eat’s future.
Hayden Town Manager Mathew Mendisco hopes the company will be the first of many new manufacturing businesses that will come to Hayden — and the town manager thinks Hayden is a perfect fit for them.
“It’s actually a target cluster for us that I’m calling outdoor recreation manufacturing and distribution,” Mendisco said. “It absolutely fits with what we would be looking to do within the business park, up by the airport.”
Mendisco said Hayden looks forward to working with Bar-U-Eat to help identify how they handle manufacturing and distribution.
“A traditional economic person would tell you an interstate is a key to being a manufacturing and distribution hub,” Mendisco said.
For Mendisco, it will be interesting to see how Bar-U-Eat deals with those challenges. He said Bar-U-Eat could become a model for other companies that he is hoping to draw to the business park, which he hopes to see developed on land adjacent to the Yampa Valley Airport.
Meanwhile, Nelson and Friday said the new facility has room for dry storage for ingredients, a wash station for the employees making the bars and a space for a kitchen that will include a bar-making machine and a flow wrapping machine. There will also be a large warehouse where the finished bars can be stored until they are shipped to their intended destinations.
There will also be a storage area outside, and the partners are hoping to utilize two existing hoop greenhouses to offer a space were other businesses that create local produce can grow.
“We have a bar-forming machine and a flow wrapper coming in April,” Friday said. “That’s when we’ll really ramp up, start hiring people.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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