New coffee roasting plant opens in Sumner

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has opened a processing facility in Sumner, shortly after acquiring the rights to the Tully’s brand.

By Daniel Nash

The Courier-Herald

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has opened a processing facility in Sumner, shortly after acquiring the rights to the Tully’s brand.

The Vermont-based company hosted a grand opening ceremony for the facility Dec. 1. The facility is responsible for cleaning, roasting, packaging and distributing coffee and coffee beans. The facility is an Investco property.

The event was primarily a coming out ceremony to introduce the company to the city, but regular operations began in September.

Ceremonies took place in a corner of the storage section of the approximately 192,000-square foot office and warehouse. Attendees were treated to a buffet lunch complete with rhubarb pie, a nod to Sumner’s status as the “Rhubarb Pie Capital of the World.”

Members of business and government from all walks of Sumner were invited to the ceremony, representing interests as varied as REI Sporting Goods and the mayor’s office. A brief video showed the process of producing coffee from tree to finished product.

Speakers included Director of Public Relations Sandy Yusen, Chief Operating Officer Scott McCreary, Vice President of Supply Chain Operations John Wettstein, Director of Operations John Raider, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility Mike Dupee and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. Speeches were followed by the ribbon-cutting and a tour of the coffee roasting and packaging process.

Green Mountain sells coffee in whole bean and ground forms, but it is perhaps best known for its line of Keurig brand single-serving brewers.

Green Mountain developed the Keurig and K-cup technology, and licenses the K-cup technology to outside coffee companies. Displays of the Platinum B70 model brewer were placed near the buffet for demonstration and sampling purposes.

“Each of our brands had record earnings in 2008,” Chief Operating Officer Scott McCreary said. “Most of that growth was due to the popularity of our Keurig brewers and single-serving K-cups as a way of brewing coffee.”

Green Mountain is currently in the process of acquiring ownership of companies that license its K-cup technology. Existing brands under Green Mountain’s ownership include Tully’s, Newman’s Own, Caribou Coffee, recently acquired Timothy’s, and the company’s own self-named brand.

Green Mountain is currently in competition with Peet’s Coffee and Tea to acquire the Diedrich Coffee company, an asset which would give Green Mountain a majority share of the K-cup market.

The company acquired Tully’s Coffee Company in March. Green Mountain executives began looking for a prime spot for a new facility in the Pacific Northwest to maintain the brand’s ties to the region. They eventually chose Sumner for its potential to attract experienced employees from Tully’s and the city’s existing labor base, said John Wettstein, the vice president for supply chain operations.

The facility has created 97 jobs in Sumner. The company’s goal is to keep jobs in the western Washington region and create new jobs as they go, McCreary said.

Enslow recalled meeting with Green Mountain’s location scouting in the spring.

“I told them I think the company is a great fit for our small town,” Enslow said. “I told them we weren’t Seattle. We weren’t even Kent and we weren’t Puyallup. We’re Sumner, a great little place that stands up well all by itself.”

Enslow went on to highlight the affordable housing, ready workforce and great community of Sumner, and said he was confident in environmental consciousness and quality of product of the Green Mountain company.

Dupee announced several $25,000 grants the company had given to organizations in the region, including United Way, Facing the Future, Food Lifeline, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Seattle Works and Northwest Harvest.

After the grand opening event, 30 employees went to Northwest Harvest to volunteer. Further, Green Mountain will provide its employees with 52 hours of fully-paid time off per year if the time is used to volunteer in the community, Dupee said.

The dominant theme of the event was Green Mountain’s enthusiasm to be involved with Sumner, which Raider expressed in a quote from the Beatle’s “Sgt. Pepper” album: “It’s wonderful to be here, it’s certainly a thrill.”

The Green Mountain Sumner facility is at 3324 142nd Ave East, Suite 200, and can be contacted at 253-447-9100. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is based in Waterbury, Vt.