After 14 years in St. Francis, Suzy’s Cream Cheesecakes Inc. is now officially open in Oak Creek.
The 44,200-square-foot facility at 9911 S. Howell Ave. is more than quadruple the size of its former 10,000-square-foot St. Francis location at 1775 E. Bolivar Ave.
“We were very near capacity in St. Francis,” said Mark Kirchner, president and chief executive officer. “In order for the business to keep growing, we needed a larger space and more capacity.”
Suzy’s, a producer of cheesecakes and other desserts, had been running the St. Francis plant 24 hours per day, six or seven days per week for the past three years depending on the time of year, according to Kirchner. Now, he expects the new plant to run 12 hours per day, five days per week.
Now in the larger Oak Creek facility, Suzy’s expects to produce about four times as much product each year. Kirchner declined to disclose the company’s annual production rate.
With the new space, Suzy’s was also able to increase its baking, freezing and storage capacity, and it has made a “substantial” investment in new equipment, Kirchner said.
The company also will be hiring a yet to be determined number of production and office employees in the next few months, Kirchner said. Currently, it employs 120 to 130, which includes both full-time employees and temporary employees who are hired during busy times of the year.
Suzy’s shut down production at its St. Francis plant on May 11, but it has been in operation in Oak Creek since early April, Kirchner said. It officially opened its Oak Creek doors to the public, for retail sales, on May 19.
The opening comes four-and-a-half years after Suzy’s first began planning for a new facility, according to Kirchner.
Suzy’s initially announced in 2011 it was moving to a 50,000-square-foot building in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley, but later dropped those plans. Kirchner went on to look at 123 industrial properties in southeastern Wisconsin before selecting the Oak Creek location in 2013.
“Oak Creek had the building that fit our needs,” said Kirchner, citing the requirement of a clean, wide-open space and the desire for a nearby location that would allow for a similar commute for employees.
The building, which Suzy’s is leasing for 20 years, was formerly occupied by C-Graphics LLC, according to Doug Seymour, Oak Creek director of community development.
Kirchner declined to disclose financial details, but he said the new building will “absolutely” allow Suzy’s to grow.
He did say, however, that the company’s sales recently doubled year-over-year for four years in a row.
“What’s driving the growth is No. 1, we make the best cheesecake in the country,” Kirchner said. “And we have new, innovative items driving growth both in cheesecakes and desserts.”
Cheesecake enrobed in chocolate is one such example, but the company is developing new concepts on a weekly basis. In addition to a robust research and development team, Kirchner said Suzy’s maintains a focus on customer service and quality.
Suzy’s Cream Cheesecakes was founded in 1983 by Suzy Strothmann. Before moving to St. Francis in 2001, it was located at 5901 W. Vliet St. in Milwaukee.
The Oak Creek building was purchased in 2014 by an affiliate of Port Washington-based Ansay Development from an affiliate of Milwaukee-based Van Buren Management Inc. for $2 million, according to state records.