Nearly floor to ceiling windows open the welcome area of Epicurean's new headquarters and manufacturing facility to the bay off Connors Point, offering a view of the boats and ships traveling in the Superior Bay.
In the welcome center, shelves are lined with products that denote the evolution of Epicurean kitchen products from its origin, TrueRide, builders and designers of skate parks including Superior's in Heritage Park, which has since been sold.
Since January, the maker of cutting boards and a growing line of kitchen utensils has been manufacturing its products, distributed in more than 50 countries, on Connors Point.
Co-owners Dave Benson and Tony Ciardelli offered a look inside its newly renovated facility late last week.
"It was a long process ... it actually feels good to pull everyone together and give thanks, Ciardelli said. He said it took a lot of people to make the facility, which offers about 60,000 square feet of space for its operations, a reality.
Benson and Ciardelli purchased the former Woodline Manufacturing building at 257B Main St. about two years ago, and renovated the former wood door and trim manufacturing facility to suit its needs.
In addition to adding windows and white paint to brighten the facility, LED lighting and a heat reclamation system and added CNC (computer numerical control) machines to aid in improving efficiencies of the manufacturing process.
"It's a big improvement for not only our business, but our staff," Benson said, who thanked state agencies and local officials who helped make the project possible.
The city's mayor was given a customized mash paddle that said "Brewmaster & Mayor Jim Paine."
"They're getting into the home brew supply business," Paine said. "They heard that I dabbled before and they upgraded my title to brewmaster. This had me more excited than I reasonably should have been."
Paine, who served on the County Board until April, said the credit for the city's part in the project belonged to Jason Serck, the city's economic development, port and planning director.
"I'm in the community development business, which is about more than where you go to work," Paine said. "It's how you live your life and making sure Superior is better. And when you look at this facility, you're going to see that it's not just a place where you go to work. It's not just a manufacturing plant. It's a beautiful place to spend your time. And the company and its values are investing in the community ... it's about bringing fun things to do in our kitchens."
Ciardelli said the goal of the redesign was to provide a space where the company can train its distributors and employees could work in comfort. It has created a longer bike ride to work, he said.
The company was formerly headquartered at the Hawksboot facility in Duluth that now houses Epicurean's sister company, Loll Designs. The company makes outdoor furniture using post-consumer plastics otherwise destined for a landfill. According to the company's website, it takes about 400 milk jugs to make one of its Adirondack chairs, which are 100 percent recycled material.
In addition to adding windows at its new facility, Ciardelli said, Epicurean's new facility eliminated a parking lot to create green space outside, and added energy and other efficiencies to its operation.
"At our old facility, we had offsite storage where we would store raw material and would truck it up every day for production," Ciardelli said. He said the new facility offers about four times the space as Hawksboot did, which has allowed them to bring all its operations under one roof.
The additional space also has allowed for creation of a factory outlet store on site, where people can buy Epicurean cutting boards, utensils, display trays and other kitchen supplies that meet food service hygiene standards. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.