California tea company to bring manufacturing to Summit View


Gov. Ralph Northam (left) extends a welcome to Traditional Medicinals CEO Blair Kellison (center) and Co-Founder and Chairman Drake Sadler during Tuesday’s announcement that the tea company would be Summit View’s newest tenant.

On Tuesday morning, the Franklin County Board of Supervisors, along with government officials, including Gov. Ralph Northam, welcomed Traditional Medicinals CEO Blair Kellison and Co-Founder and Chairman Drake Sadler as Summit View Business Park’s newest tenants.

To date, the tea company is making the largest investment in the Summit View Business Park, at nearly $30 million, to build an East Coast manufacturing and processing operation. The company will build a 125,000-square-foot facility on 30 acres and create 56 new jobs. Franklin County Economic Development Director Michael Burnette said the project has a 48- to 60-month timeline.

Northam said his top priority is the economy and people having well-paying jobs.

“People in Virginia want a job that can support themselves and their family,” Northam said.

The 56 jobs that will be provided by Traditional Medicinals will have an average annual wage of $47,000, according to Franklin County Board of Supervisors Chairman Leland Mitchell.

The company will create additional indirect jobs and economic benefits. Economic impact modeling by the Roanoke Regional Partnership indicates this project will have an overall annual economic impact of more than $62 million at full operation and spur the creation of more than 180 secondary jobs.

Traditional Medicinals, Inc. was founded 45 years ago and is the top seller of organic, medicinal and fair trade herbal teas in the U.S. and Canada.

The new facility will produce more than 50 high-quality herbal teas and products, including its well-known products such as Throat Coat and Mother’s Milk. Their teas can be found at Kroger and more than 70,000 retail locations in the U.S. and abroad.

“We are thrilled that Traditional Medicinals selected Franklin County for its East Coast facility,” Mitchell said. “Traditional Medicinals is a world-class company, and Franklin County is extremely excited for them to join our business community and the growing list of firms that call the Summit View Business Park home. Summit View and Franklin County promote an exceptional quality of life at their core, and we are gratified that Traditional Medicinals was looking for exactly that for the home of their new East Coast location. We look forward to Traditional Medicinals being a cornerstone of our economic base and community for many years to come.”

Franklin County and the Roanoke Regional Partnership worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for almost two years on this project, according to a Jan. 21 press release. The project will receive a $350,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has approved a $245,000 grant and $245,000 loan from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund for the project. Franklin County will provide the site at no cost based on investment and employment goals along with a grant of $360,000 for utility extensions.

“Traditional Medicinals’ selection of Franklin County and the Roanoke Region is not happenstance,” said Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “They recognized our strong food and beverage sector. More importantly, Traditional Medicinals’ corporate and brand values are perfectly aligned with our regional narrative of natural beauty, environmental sustainability, and active, healthy lifestyles.”

Traditional Medicinals CEO Blair Kellison said as the fastest growing tea company in the U.S., they are looking to expand production and create new products as well.

“Traditional Medicinals is not coming to Franklin County to try to create a new market for our products in Virginia,” Kellison said. “We are already in every store in this county — every single CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart and grocery store you will find our products. We would like to be in Franklin County because we are expanding production. We have a West Coast manufacturing facility that is reaching capacity and we’d also like to be closer to our retailers.”

He added the herbs they import from Europe travel through the port of Virginia on the way to the Panama Canal so instead of sending the items to California, the herbs will come to Franklin County for manufacturing.

The other thing that drew Traditional Medicinals to Franklin County was a shared commitment to doing the right thing by the community and its people.

“It was incredibly important that we found a location that embodied our company values,” Kellison said. “We’ve worked for decades to ensure that the work we do positively impacts both the environment and the people in the communities where we do business — both on a local level and in the 42 countries where we purchase herbs. We are proud to become a part of Franklin County and the greater Roanoke community and look forward to making a positive social business impact here.”

The first phase of Summit View’s construction is complete — Traditional Medicinals joins Valley Star Credit Union’s administrative campus and Stik-Pak Solutions in the park. Eventually the 550-acre project will include pavilions, athletic fields, a festival and tourist area, multi-use trails and more, in addition to fully served business and industrial sites.

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