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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Carolina Foods making honey buns at new Pineville bakery

Carolina Foods makes 640 honey buns per minute at its new 428,000-square-foot facility in Pineville, which will go from one production line to seven over the next 18 months as it transitions away from its historic location 10 miles away in the Queen City’s Wilmore neighborhood.

The move will allow the 90-year-old company that has seen 60% growth over the past two years double its capacity of such brands as best-seller Duchess Honey Buns, Gem Donuts and pies, says CEO Dan Myers.

“The delicious smell of honey buns now fills the air in Pineville,” says Myers, although he admits the air filtration system of the new facility may only leave a hint of the goodness being baked inside the building that sits on 40 acres.

A third generation of the Scarborough family was running the company started in 1934 by Vernon Scarborough in Charlotte when they realized they needed help getting to the next level, says Myers.

Charlotte-based private equity firm Falfurrias Capital Partners bought a majority stake in the company in 2021. Falfurrias was the only company that was committed to building a new bakery, says Myers, who joined the company after the purchase.

“There was more demand out there than we had the capacity to service in the old facility so we had to build a new one,” says Myers. The single honey bun production line operating at the new plant can produce twice the volume of honey buns now being produced at the plant in Charlotte’s Wilmore neighborhood, with just under the same number of employees, Myers says. Combined, the two bakeries produce “well more than 1 million honey buns” per day, he says.

The company sells its products in all 48 continental states, plus Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. The old bakery had 370 employees, but the company has added about 50 workers since opening its new bakery. About 65 hourly employees now work at the new bakery, which will increase as two new production lines are added this year, and four in 2025, Myers says. Once fully operational, the new bakery will employ between 400 and 450 workers.

Moving to Pineville made sense for Carolina Foods, says Myers. Internal employee surveys indicate most of the company’s workers will make the move with the company. “It’s important that our team members are able to keep their jobs,” he says. 

Lilian Colon separates honey buns on the production line of the Carolina Foods bakery in Pineville.

Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner was the general contractor on the building. Carolina Foods located in the 228-acre Carolina Logistics Park that Beacon Partners began developing in 2020. Amazon has a facility of more than 1 million square feet there and industrial supply company Grainger has a warehouse of more than 525,000 square feet. The nine buildings in the industrial complex that have either been built or are under construction have more than 3.5 million square feet of space.

“A few years ago it was all farmland and pasture, but now it’s all brand new,” says Pineville Mayor David Phillips. “When people say industrial park, sometimes they think it will be an eyesore, but this is a beautiful area.”

Phillips says the industrial park has given Pineville residents places to work and others reasons to move into the area in the southwest corner of Mecklenburg, near the South Carolina line.

Carolina Foods will likely have a presence in the old bakery until the first quarter of 2026, Myers says. The Scarborough family retains ownership of that building, and it will be up to them what happens to that land, he says.

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