A Palm City company known for its healthy pet foods has purchased land in Jupiter and plans to build a new headquarters and distribution facility.
Life's Abundance has bought a 1-acre parcel just outside the Jupiter Park of Commerce on Capital Street. Plans are to build a 21,000-square-foot facility. The project is valued at $3.1 million, which includes $600,000 paid for the land, said Lester Thornhill, the company's president and chief executive.
The seller was Capital Street Holdings. Rick Reikenis, a Capital Street official, said he and his partners bought the land in 2008 to build a building for their North Palm Beach engineering firm, East Bay Group, but the recession undercut their plans.
Their setback, however, proved fortuitous for Life's Abundance, which now will be able to expand its business. The company has 32 employees and is looking to hire. It expects to grow to at least 50 once it makes the move to Palm Beach County by February. The company has an immediate need for a marketing and communications specialist.
"We need a larger labor pool," Thornhill said.
The company is poised for continued growth with the popularity of its all-natural cat and dog food. Thornhill would not disclose profits at the privately held company, but he said that revenue exceeds $15 million annually.
Sales continue to grow. Last year the company grew more than 7 percent, and this year "we're up more than last year," he said.
Peter Reed, a Commercial Florida Realty Services principal and the broker on the deal, called the move a "real shot in the arm" for the economy. "It brings needed jobs to Jupiter," Reed said, and will add some construction jobs, too.
Thornhill said the company needed a bigger building and decided to build its own facility after realizing that prices for property and construction were going to go up. "We realized if there was any time it made sense to build a building, that time would be now," he said.
The building also will be the company's headquarters and the location of its southeast distribution facility. In addition to Florida, Life's Abundance has distribution facilities in California and Illinois.
The company, founded in 1988, makes skin-care products for people, as well as environmentally friendly cleaning products. But its cat and dog foods are its signature. Thornhill said the pet foods do not contain corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or preservatives.
All-natural pet products may have seemed like an unnecessary perk for puppy when the company began 13 years ago, but over time, consumers have discovered the benefits of healthy eating, both for themselves and their pets, company executives said.
Linda Logue, the company's marketing vice president, said most people consider pets part of the family and will cut back on other expenses before they switch their pet's food to a different brand.
Thornhill said: "When people find a pet product that provides a benefit, that's the last place they're going to look to save money."