CANAAN – When Heather Kerner launched her startup The Good Crust in 2020, she rented space at The Miller’s Table at Skowhegan’s Maine Grains, where she had access a couple of days a week to an 80-square-foot kitchen and large cabin freezer.
It gave her the ability to make up to 11 pounds of pizza dough at a time, with the ability to make that amount about five times a day.
Business, it turned out, was doing well.
The Good Crust expanded its business with a move earlier this year to 210 Main St. in Canaan. The 1,200 square feet of space is equipped with new equipment that enables the production of approximately 2,000 pounds of pasta every day the job is done.
“For us, the footprint and condition of this facility are right,” said Kerner. “It’s crisp and new, not too big to be inaccessible to operate in, and only six miles from the mill where we buy 100% of our grain-based ingredients.”
The Good Crust has produced 61,000 pounds of pasta since launching two years ago. This year alone, the company is on track to produce 35,000 pounds, using about the same volume of local grains in the process. Although there are several pizza dough manufacturers throughout Maine, The Good Crust is the first and only commercially available pasta maker made from 100% Maine grains, Kerner said.
The dough making process, he said, is a bit different than some competitors, using a process required for freshly ground grains to create a more hydrated dough.
“(The process) is partly mechanized, partly manual,” Kerner said. “This is directly in line with our social mission to create good jobs in Somerset County for disadvantaged populations.”
The Good Crust has a partnership with The Miller’s Table at Maine Grains and Crown O’Maine in Vassalboro (Kerner is the twin sister of Maine Grains co-founder and CEO Amber Lambke). Since opening, the business has also become a supplier to Flight Deck Brewing in Brunswick, Strong Brewing in Sedgwick, Hearth and Soul Oven based in Maine and other locations in Maine and the far south of Hudson Valley, New York.
The Canaan space allows The Good Crust to expand the building at some point. Kerner also plans to add another freezer, which would help the company have the ability to reach $ 1 million in revenue over the next two years.
“So we can start thinking about a modest kitchen expansion to extend our ability to support Maine agricultural products with new markets for pre-stretched round pizza dough, dry pizza dough, and higher volumes of frozen dough to serve. ‘university, school and hospital catering programs,’ Kerner said.
She is a training occupational therapist and is hired by the Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18. One of the main goals of her business is to provide workforce development training for people with varying cognitive and physical abilities.
His business is one of many in Somerset County that plans to expand and grow in the coming months.
“The Good Crust and its expansion are a wonderful story, especially at the beginning of the pandemic and related economic uncertainty,” said Christian Savage, executive director of Somerset Economic Development Co. “This is a testament to the commitment, the Heather’s intelligence and trust in her business. As food safety and supply chain constraints continue to haunt us all, The Good Crust is well positioned to succeed and contribute to our local economy with its locally sourced produce. “
Maine Grains and Bigelow Brewing have both announced the expansion of their facilities in downtown Skowhegan. An Embden couple closed the Solon Hotel last fall with plans to renovate the building in a phased project, revitalizing a space that will house a restaurant, bar and entertainment space.
GO Lab / TimberHP is also accelerating to begin wood fiber insulation production at the former Madison Paper Mill, production of which is expected to begin in early 2023, a move that will bring about 100 jobs to the area. In Bingham, Maine Plywood plans to begin operations at the old Quimby mill with plans to produce a high-end wood subfloor / plywood, bringing another 100 jobs to the area.
“Regionally, the business climate has had ups and downs like most areas, but we have been impressed with the amount of new business open, even in these difficult times,” said Savage. “We are also delighted to see existing companies investing in themselves and their employees during the pandemic. The Good Crust is another business that contributes to Somerset County’s local food and grain economy that really took off with Maine Grains over 10 years ago. “
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