CANAN – When Heather Kerner launched her startup The Good Crust in 2020, she took a seat at The Miller’s Table in Maine Grains, Skowhegan, where she had access to an 80-square-foot kitchen and a large walk-in freezer several days a week.
This gave Kerner a place to produce up to 11 pounds of pizza dough at a time, with the capacity to make that amount about five times a day.
It turned out that the business was good.
The Good Crust expanded with a move earlier this year to 210 Main St. in Canaan. The 1,200-square-foot space features new equipment that allows the production of about 2,000 pounds of dough a day when work is done.
“For us, the footprint and condition of this facility is appropriate,” Kerner said. “It’s shiny and new, not too big to be prohibitively expensive to work with, and only 6 miles from the mill where we buy 100% of our grain.”
Good Crust has produced £ 61,000 of dough since it was launched two years ago. This year alone, the business is set to produce £ 35,000, using roughly the same amount of local grain in the process. Although there are several pizza dough makers in Maine, The Good Crust is the only commercial maker of dough made with 100% Maine beans, according to Kerner.
The process of making the dough, she said, is different from some competitors, using a process needed for freshly ground grains to create a dough with higher hydration.
“The process is partly mechanized, partly manual,” Kerner said. “This is directly in line with our social mission to create good jobs in Somerset County for the underserved population.
The Good Crust has partnered with The Miller’s Table in Maine Grains and Crown O’Maine Distribution Co. in Vassalboro. Since its inception, The Good Crust has also become a supplier of Flight Deck Brewing in Brunswick, Strong Brewing Co. in Sedgwick, the Maine-based Hearth and Soul Oven, and others in Maine or all the way to the Hudson Valley in New York.
The Canaanite space allows The Good Crust to expand the building at a time. Kerner also plans to add another freezer that will help businesses have the capacity to reach $ 1 million in revenue over the next two years.
“Then we can start thinking about modestly expanding the kitchen to expand our ability to sustain Maine’s agricultural products with new markets for pre-stretched round pizza dough, dry pizza dough mix and larger volumes of frozen dough.” to serve the University, School and Hospital of Maine’s food service programs, “said Kerner, twin sister of co-founder and CEO of Maine Grains Amber Lambke.
Kerner is an occupational therapist by training and is employed by the Auckland-based Regional School Unit 18. The main goal of her business is to provide workforce development training for people with different cognitive and physical abilities.
The Good Crust is one of several in Somerset County that plans to expand in the coming months.
“The Good Crust and its expansion are a wonderful story, especially at the beginning of the pandemic and the accompanying economic uncertainty,” said Christian Savage, CEO of Somerset Economic Development Co. “It’s a testament to Heather’s commitment, intelligence and confidence in her business.
“As food security and supply chain constraints continue to plague us all, The Good Crust is well placed to succeed and contribute to our local economy with its local goods.
Maine Grains and Bigelow Brewing Co. announced the expansion of its facilities in the center of Skowhegan. A couple from Embden closed the Solon Hotel last fall with plans to renovate the building into a multi-phase project that revitalizes the space, which will be a restaurant, bar and entertainment area.
GO Lab / TimberHP is also growing to start production of wood fiber insulation at the former Madison paper mill, with production set to begin in early 2023, which is expected to create around 100 jobs in the area.
In Bingham, Maine Plywood plans to start work on the old Quimby Mill, with plans to create about 100 jobs to produce high-quality wood backing / plywood.
“Regionally, the business climate has had its ups and downs, like most areas, but we were impressed with the number of new businesses opening, even in these difficult times,” Savage said. “We are also pleased to see that existing companies are investing in themselves and their employees during the pandemic.
“The Good Crust is another business that contributes to the local food and grain economy in Somerset County, which really developed with Maine Grains more than 10 years ago.”
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