It’s been two years since a group of investors acquired the former Montrose Russell Stover plant and even longer since the candy manufacturer decided to close the facility.
The building remains empty aside from the maintenance workers onsite for upkeep.
There have been plenty of interested parties, according to Sandy Head, executive director for the Montrose Fxonomic Development Corporation, but no one has made the leap to move in.
“Active prospects, we average two a month,’ Head said. “Those are other companies looking to come here.”
A big hurdle for many companies is transportation — getting supplies to Montrose to manufacture products. The other challenge is the amount of space. Not all manufacturers need the 278,400 square feet that the plant would afford them.
One company, which Head described as the fourth-largest manufacturer of salsa in the United States, looked poised to move in last year. It was a company that fit the “Cinderella slipper.”
A rich agricultural area — with other growers in nearby states and Mexico — meant shorter distances for transportation.
“They weren’t even looking at another property,” Head said. But the owners eventually decided to build a new plant in Texas rather than move into the former Stover building.
Another food-product manufacturer is currently in talks with the owners (a group of investors called Benezet Realty Partners, LLC) and the MEDC.
In the meantime, until a tenant or buyer is found, the facility’s utilities are expensive. Head said they have to keep the building’s electricity on and running for the freezer space and to keep the equipment operational.
Before Russell Stover left Montrose, they were a $ 1 million customer for local power supplier DMEA.
The most recent suitor went silent for a while. But Head said he came to ski Telluride and had a look at the building. ‘When he got home, he was really reconsidering Montrose,’ Head said.
The building at 2200 Stover Drive was constructed in 1973 and housed Russell Stover manufacturing operations until 2020.
The Russell Stover plant was the third-largest employer in Montrose, after Montrose County School District and Montrose Memorial Hospital before it left.
Justin Tubbs is the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at justin@montrosebusinesstimes. com or by phone at 970-7650915 or 254-246-2260.