Eight years ago, Mid's Homestyle Pasta Sauce was just a small family operation, with its sauces found only within 40 miles of its home in Navarre.
But today, thanks to aggressive marketing under a new owner, the sauce is sold in 1,400 stores in 14 states, with company President and Chief Executive R. Scott Ricketts looking for more growth.
Mid's plans to buy food-processing equipment and build an 18,500-square-foot facility along North Main Street in Navarre, a village in southern Stark County.
In all, the company expects to invest between $2.15 million and $3.15 million in its expansion project, which may get under way this month.
Stark County commissioners on Tuesday approved a 10-year, 75 percent exemption on property and inventory taxes to help the company grow and remain in Navarre, its home since Mideo Octavio started selling homemade spaghetti sauce in his downtown restaurant in 1938.
"This is good not only for Navarre, but all of Stark County," Commissioner Gayle Jackson said.
Mid's, bought by Ricketts in 1997, has outgrown its 7,200-square-foot plant and is having difficulty keeping up with customer demand, even operating seven days a week with two shifts. The new equipment -- including a jar-washing and -sanitizing system, a pasteurizer machine and kettles -- will help automate the pasta plant and allow workers to produce more sauce each day, Ricketts said.
Workers now stir sauce and cook meat by hand.
Ricketts declined to reveal sales figures for the company, which employs 19 people full time. He expects to add five workers over the next three years.
The company can make about 4,000 jars of sauce a day; that will more than quadruple with the expansion and new equipment, he said. Mid's also will begin making two new recipes: a pizza sauce with sausage, and a sauteed mushroom and roasted garlic sauce. The company makes eight sauces; the best-selling one is the meat.
Mid's, sold in stores ranging from Wal-Mart to Wegmans Food Markets, has a loyal following.
Navarre Mayor Bob Benson and his wife, Patsy, take a jar with them on vacation to Florida because it's not sold there. "Once you've had Mid's spaghetti sauce, no other sauce will do," Bob Benson said.