Lake Champlain Chocolates moves production to Boyer Circle
BY JASON STARR
In May, the manufacturing floor inside Lake Champlain Chocolates’ headquarters on Pine Street in Burlington was vacated, with equipment and personnel moved across Chittenden County to Williston’s industrial zone.
With 70,000 square feet in a building on Boyer Circle, the business has brought its receiving, production, packaging and shipping processes under one roof and left its Burlington flagship building with newfound space and flexibility for product development and consumer-facing initiatives.
The company, which was founded in 1983 and is now under its second-generation of family ownership, has had a warehouse on Boyer Circle since 2011. Starting in 2017, it began experimenting with moving more of its production there.
“It has a lot more linear space than our building in Burlington has,” company President Jim Lampman said. “With manufacturing, straight unobstructed length is very helpful.”
But it wasn’t until the company fully committed to moving all its production and distribution to Williston last month that it realized the full benefit of the open square-footage.
“When we had two facilities, we were handling things a lot more than we had to,” Lampman said. “We had to ship things to ourselves, across town, then back to Burlington. It was kind of a circular flow within our own internal supply chain. We really identified there was a lot of waste and cost in our internal handling.”
There are about 60 full-time employees working out of the Williston location. That number will swell to meet seasonal demand each fall, Lampman said. He expects that having the production and packaging teams working in the same location will benefit employee morale.
“We call it a packaging group and a manufacturing group, but in reality they are all part of one process, and this is an opportunity for us to join the processes together and have that team spirit that is really essential for safety, product quality and overall operation,” Lampman said. “Williston has become a great new facility of operations and fulfillment to ship chocolate across the country.”
One thing the company loses in the transition is its factory tours, which were offered at the Burlington headquarters. The company won’t be offering those in Williston.
“Everyone wants to be able to walk through a chocolate factory, but it’s challenging with food safety to be able to orchestrate that,” said Lampman. “And certainly the world of COVID has made everyone think differently about tours and access.”
Meanwhile, in Burlington, Lake Champlain Chocolates plans to build out its ice cream business, which will be moved from Williston to Burlington. It will also retain its research and development, sales and marketing offices and retail store there.
“There are some exciting things that will come to Pine Street in a reimagining of our flagship store,” Lampman said. “We have an opportunity to think a little differently without space constraints. We are excited to be working on some opportunities for people to come experience chocolate and ice cream in new ways. That’s what we’re trying to work toward creating.”