Chautauqua County officials tour Crunch Roll facility
WESTFIELD — Following CCIDA’s August 28, 2018 Board of Director’s meeting, county and CCIDA officials toured The Original Crunch Roll Factory’s Bourne Street, Westfield food production facility to witness the operation first-hand.
According to Crunch Roll’s Mark Bohn, they are very pleased with product sales and said “we are selling them as fast as we are making them.” To that end, a new packaging line to support the growing frozen retail pack will be arriving at the facility in September. Production continues to expand, now at 5-6 days each week, which is creating additional job opportunities.
“Crunch Roll,” as it’s affectionately referred to by their fan base, has further expanded distribution recently. Originally sold in 500, and then 2,000 stores, Crunch Rolls are now sold in 3,500 7-Eleven stores from New York to Colorado and South Carolina. Currently available at all Tops supermarkets in their Market Cafes as a grab and go item, the new five-pack frozen retail products are available in select locations at the present time, with the balance of stores adding them in the near future. Wegmans will begin selling them in the frozen food section immediately after Labor Day in select locations. Tuscany Market in Fredonia was one of the area’s first stores to carry Crunch Rolls, and the retail packs can also be found in many of the area’s Save-A-Lot and Shurfine locations.
Its popular Buffalo Chicken Crunch Rolls and Banana Pepper Crunch Rolls are already offered in numerous restaurants and convenience stores both locally and nationwide, including Buffalo’s Anchor Bar, locally at Cabana Sam’s, Sunset Bay Restaurant, Chautauqua Suites, Group Ther-Happy, Shorewood Country Club, and Jamestown’s The Cherry Lounge to name a few. A second year sponsor of the LECOM Health Challenge, Crunch Rolls were available in the golf tournament’s hospitality tents. These cheesy, crunchy treats won “best new product” at the 2016 Buffalo Wing Festival. Crunch Rolls are also occasionally served at the Westfield Community Kitchen, a local soup kitchen that the company donates product to.
Crunch Rolls began as an appetizer developed in-house for a family restaurant in Buffalo. Initially the company looked at facilities outside of the Chautauqua County area. They then learned of a building matching their specifications located central to Westfield’s business district and a reliable workforce. With financial assistance from the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA), Crunch Roll purchased the building and renovated the 15,630-square foot site for USDA and FDA approved food processing.
CCIDA’s assistance included $500,000 in loans toward acquisition, renovations, machinery, and working capital. CCIDA also provided a PILOT/Tax Lease, Sales Tax, and Mortgage Recording Tax Abatements to incentivize the company to locate here. In addition, Crunch Roll received a low-cost power allocation from New York Power Authority (NYPA), and StartUp NY certification via a Three-Party Agreement with SUNY Fredonia and CCIDA. Zachary stated “The support and willingness of the CCIDA guiding us through the potential new geographic location made us feel welcome from the beginning, and was a major driver in us committing to Westfield as the home of The Original Crunch Roll Factory.” Mark added, “We are so glad we selected Westfield; we have been able to hire an excellent staff and everyone in the area has been great to us.”
The company actively collaborates with SUNY Fredonia via the StartUp NY relationship. Company management works with the college’s interns to teach business basics while the interns provide social media and marketing support. SUNY Fredonia FSA worked with the company to develop the new Mac ‘N Cheese Crunch Roll, a perfect fit for the school’s “Cheesy Friday” tradition. The new product has been a huge hit both on and off campus.
The Westfield Development Corporation provided assistance at the local level, with planning, zoning, and by connecting company representatives to Chautauqua Works for job posting and recruitment assistance. The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber of Commerce has also worked to spread the word that the company is continuing to hire as it continues to expand hours of operations.
The company has already exceeded its first-year employment projection with over 24 workers. CCIDA Administrative Director/CEO Mark Geise said, “Attracting The Original Crunch Roll Factory’s food production facility to Chautauqua County is an excellent example of the ongoing collaboration and strategic planning occurring amongst our local, regional and state economic development partners.” Geise went on to congratulate Zachary and Mark Bohn on their growing successful startup enterprise.
Zachary Bohn, Owner and Co-Founder, operates The Original Crunch Roll factory with his father. Currently on sabbatical from Canisius College where he is a business major, which is allowing him to focus on growing the company, Zach grew up in and around the food service industry, getting his start in his family’s restaurant. Zach said, “It’s been really great working with my father. We both see big potential for this business, and we look forward to continuing to grow in Chautauqua County.”