Third-generation family owned business hopes to make connection with Springfield community

Shalini Sheth, director of operations for Surati, in the empty plant her company will move into soon on Upper Valley Pike. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Shalini Sheth, director of operations for Surati, in the empty plant her company will move into soon on Upper Valley Pike. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The geographic location of Springfield and available manufacturing initially peaked the interest of a Toronto-based snack food company that specializes in Indian treats.

But, it was the Springfield community that convinced the company to open its first manufacturing facility in the U.S. in the city, said Shalini Sheth, Director of Operations for Surati Sweet Mart, Ltd.

Sheth said that she felt the values of her third-generation family owned business meshed well with the atmosphere found in Springfield. She said available manufacturing space brought them to the area, but they decided to stay because of the people.

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“The Springfield community is the perfect strategic location for us to locate and expand our operations. It’s simply a community that wants our investment and has worked with our leadership to make it happen,” Sheth said in a news release last week announcing Surati new operations in the area.

Surati purchased the property at 3100 Upper Valley Pike and plans to invest $16 million in the facility and create 108 jobs. The goal is for that operation to be up and running by the end of this year.

Surati was officially established in Toronto in 1982 following demand for Sheth’s grandfather’s homemade east Indian snack foods. He had also made that type of food in his home country of Uganda and had a business there.

Sheth’s grandfather and father settled in Canada as refugees and were part of a sizable South Asian community that was expelled from Uganda in 1972.

What started out as traditional snack foods made out of the family’s kitchen in Toronto grew into the reestablishment of a business that now has a manufacturing facility in Canada and India as well as distribution centers in the U.S. and a world wide clientele.

Surati products can be found in most major Canadian grocery markets as well as specialty Indian stores in the U.S. The company makes snacks and eggless baked goods such as biscuits, biscotti, cookies, fruit cakes as well as East Indian trail mixes and other popular snacks of that cuisine.

The company, which makes exclusively vegetarian items, has also acquired a company that specializes in grainless-granola snacks.

The company has also seen an increase in sales in the U.S. and running out of space in Toronto prompted the need for another manufacturing and distribution center.

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Sheth said that they wanted to grow their presence in the Midwest since they do not have a distribution center there and that focus made the area a prime target for its planned manufacturing facility in the U.S.

That search brought them to Springfield and the company had been in talks with the Greater Springfield Partnership since December. The company did not receive a local tax abatement but did receive a job creation tax credit from the state.

About 80% of Surati’s manufacturing operation in Toronto will be moved to Springfield and along with that the company will be in need of managers, quality control, general labor and warehouse and distribution positions.

The majority of the new jobs that will be will be filled locally, Sheth said.

By the numbers:

$16 million - Total investment to Surati’s new facility in Springfield

108 - Number of jobs Surati will create at Springfield plant

1982 - Year Toronto-based Surati was formerly established.

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