Baptista’s continues to expand in Franklin

Baptista’s Bakery Inc. will expand into a 246,000-square-foot warehouse in Franklin.

The space, at 10000 S. Franklin Drive, was formerly occupied by Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Motor Co., said Jon Becker, senior vice president of finance at Baptista’s.

The building has been purchased by Milwaukee real estate firm Zilber Ltd., which will lease it back to Baptista’s. Zilber and Baptista’s declined to release the sale price.

“We’ve been short warehouse space for some time now, and when the Harley building came back on the market, we saw it as a strategic long-term option for us,” Becker said. “It’s so close, strategically it made so much sense for us. Logistically, anytime you move something, it costs money and the shortest distance you can move it, it saves money.”

The warehouse space is part of Baptista’s ongoing expansion efforts. In June, the company completed a 120,000-square-foot expansion on its nearby Franklin manufacturing facility, which is now 250,000 square feet, he said.

There is room for five new production lines in the expanded space, and three have already been added. The fourth, an extrusion line, will soon be installed, Becker said.

Much of the new production Baptista’s undertakes is for baked products.

“It’s all customer-driven, based on forecasted demand,” he said. “There’s so much out there in terms of variety and choice, and that’s really what we do. We work with customers to develop new and different product groups in that baked category.”

The company currently has about 370 employees, and expects to have 425 when both projects are completed, he said. Few of them will work in the warehouse.

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