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Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Sumner keeping eye on how to further expand

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on April 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm with No Comments »
April 17, 2013 4:22 pm

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Sumner has grown rapidly since opening in 2009, and its local director of operations said Wednesday he has his eye on how it might further expand.

No plans are imminent, but John Rader told members of the Pierce County economic development board that he’s still hiring.

“Our growth has leveled off,” he said. “I’ve been slow to hire to see where the growth will go.”

John Rader, shown in 2009, checks an individual K-Cup for the Keurig coffee machine from the production line in Sumner. Photo by Lui Kit Wong, staff photographer
John Rader, shown in 2009, checks an individual K-Cup for the Keurig coffee machine from the production line in Sumner. Photo by Lui Kit Wong, staff photographer

Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters opened its first West Coast roasting, grinding and packaging plant in Sumner the fall of 2009 with 78 employees. It had just purchased Tully’s supply chain operation, and planned to move it from its South King County location to one closer to where most of its employees lived.

Just more than three years later, it now employs 350 people in full-time jobs with benefits, averaging about $15 an hour. Rader said 58 percent of those employees live in Pierce County.

It occupies 487,000 square feet in Sumner on 142nd Ave. East. There, 24 hours a day, workers roast, grind and pack single-serve coffee devices called K-cups, made for use in Keurig single-cup machines.

The Sumner facility produces 20 million K-cups a week, Rader said, speaking during a quarterly briefing for the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County, held at the coffee facility.

Workers in Sumner grind and package coffee for Starbucks, which ships its roasted coffee from Kent. Its biggest customer is Costco, Rader said, which sells the coffee under the Kirkland Signature brand.

The Sumner plant is one of six plants outside Green Mountain’s Vermont headquarters. The others are in Knoxville, Tenn.; Windsor, Va.; Castroville, Calif.; and two in Canada.

Rader shared features of the company’s employee-focused programs, including one that pays employees to volunteer in the community during work hours, up to 52 hours a year. He also said the Sumner plant diverts 92 percent of its waste from the landfill, and that a major corporate effort is going on now to find a way to make the K-cup, made of non-recyclable plastic, to be more environmentally friendly.

“The company’s motto, or mantra, is people, planet, profits,” Rader said.


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