Sugar-free candies produced by Dr. John's are sweetened with the natural ingredient Xylitol, which also offers dental benefits. Courtesy Dr. John's Candies
A manufacturer of sugar-free candy in the area is growing.
Comstock Park-based Sugar Free Specialties, known as Dr. John’s Candies, is investing $2.3 million to expand operations at an existing 25,000-square-foot facility in Comstock Park, at 5320 West River Dr. NE, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, or MEDC, last week.
The building was home to the former Moonlight Industries.
The investment includes the building purchase, renovations, machinery and equipment, furniture, fixtures, computers and IT.
The company said it completed the purchase on Oct. 5 and is in transition. The future manufacturing facility is expected to be in operation in early 2019.
Dr. John’s said it plans to expand business by 500 percent through retail distribution once the new facility is in operation.
It also plans to create 50 jobs.
The company has one other manufacturing facility in White Pigeon and employs 20 people.
Michigan was chosen for the expansion over a competing site in Indiana.
The company was also evaluating partnering with Chinese companies for co-packing needs that it estimated would have lowered manufacturing costs by at least 20 percent, the MEDC said.
To incentivize local expansion, the MEDC awarded the expansion a $250,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.
The Right Place, a regional economic development nonprofit in Grand Rapids, has offered to assist with finding candidates for the new positions.
Sugar Free Specialties
Dr. John’s Candies was founded in 1995 by Dr. John Bruinsma and his wife, Debra Bruinsma, a dentist and hygienist team who wanted to offer a better-tasting sugar-free treat at their dental office.