Milwaukee Pretzel Co. plans to move to a different Riverwest facility this spring to accommodate continued growth of the business.
The company will take over a 30,000-square-foot facility at 3745 N. Richards St., just a few blocks from its current facility on North Holton Street. Milwaukee Pretzel currently uses around 7,000-square-feet.
“We’re staying in Riverwest, which we’re excited about,” said Matt Wessel, owner and president of Milwaukee Pretzel Co. “We really like what we’ve been able to do there commercially. There’s a lot of industry happening really when you get south of Capitol and you look at some of those inner streets.”
Wessel and his wife Katie started the company in 2013, drawing on inspiration from time spent living in Germany the previous year. Milwaukee Pretzel now distributes to 14 states and has nearly 30 employees at the peak of its busy season in summer.
“The idea with the move isn’t necessarily to grow any faster than we’re currently growing because our growth has been fairly rapid for us,” Matt Wessel said. “It’s just to be able to accommodate that rate of growth for years and years to come.”
He said word-of-mouth and targeted sales efforts towards taprooms and restaurant chains with a brewpub feel has helped drive the company’s growth along with offering a premium pretzel at a cost effective price.
“It’s been a bit of a domino effect. The more we distribute, the more people use us and the more distribution hubs we get into,” Wessel said. “Once our pretzel gets placed in a distribution center and it’s sort of the premium pretzel, other sales agents in that region hear about it and start selling it to their customers… it’s great for us because we don’t have to put a ton of resources into sales. It kind of sells itself”
He added that the company won’t necessarily use all 30,000 square feet of the building immediately, but the extra space will allow Milwaukee Pretzel to invest in automation and improve production.
“It won’t replace hand-rolled pretzels. We’ll still need human bodies doing everything, but it just allows for more automation to make things go quicker and in greater volume,” Wessel said, noting packaging is one area the company has not been able to invest in previously.
The plan is to move to the new facility next spring when the company’s current lease ends. Wessel said the company’s current landlord has been understanding of its situation.
“What we’re leaving behind I think is a nice incubator food space for another company that wants to come in,” he said.
Milwaukee Pretzel will be leasing the new space but is also part of the building’s ownership group and will likely take on a larger stake over time.
“It gives us the confidence to invest in the building and put in some things we otherwise may not in a pure rental,” Wessel said.