Northeast extension

Dietz & Watson plans to build and expand its location in Tacony.

  • Growth spurt: Louis Eni, president and CEO of Dietz & Watson, stands with Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni in the company’s factory on Tacony Street in 2011. Dietz & Watson’s planned expansion will add about 20 acres to the existing 22-acre campus and create 158 jobs. TIMES FILE PHOTO

  • Bigger and better: Dietz & Watson will invest more than $50 million into its campus at 5701 Tacony St. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Di­etz & Wat­son, 10 months after a fire des­troyed its na­tion­al dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter in New Jer­sey, has de­cided to build and ex­pand at its loc­a­tion at 5701 Ta­cony St.

The an­nounce­ment was made last week by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Corbett thanked May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on and the Phil­adelphia In­dus­tri­al De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion for fi­nal­iz­ing the deal.

The gov­ernor de­scribed Di­etz & Wat­son — a fourth-gen­er­a­tion, fam­ily-owned food man­u­fac­turer — as a brand that is syn­onym­ous with Phil­adelphia, adding that he hopes the com­pany re­mains “a staple of this com­munity for years to come.”

“My ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing every day to part­ner with busi­nesses to se­cure job-cre­at­ing pro­jects that res­ult in new in­vest­ment in our com­munit­ies and new jobs for our res­id­ents,” Corbett said. “We’re proud to part­ner with fam­ily-owned com­pan­ies such as Di­etz & Wat­son that are grow­ing and thriv­ing in Pennsylvania.”

Di­etz & Wat­son pro­duces meats and cheeses that are sold in del­is and su­per­mar­kets throughout the United States and the world. The com­pany will cre­ate 158 jobs in Phil­adelphia and re­tain its cur­rent 691 city-based em­ploy­ees.

The 158 jobs con­sist of 48 new man­u­fac­tur­ing, sales and ad­min­is­trat­ive po­s­i­tions and 110 mov­ing from the com­pany’s former site in Del­anco, Bur­l­ing­ton County. That site caught on fire last Septem­ber.

Got­tlieb Di­etz foun­ded the com­pany in 1939. Its first loc­a­tion was on Delaware Av­en­ue, near Vine Street. He died in 1964, leav­ing the busi­ness to his daugh­ter, Ruth “Momma Di­etz” Eni. The com­pany moved to its Ta­cony Street loc­a­tion in 1975.

“We are very ex­cited that Di­etz & Wat­son has chosen to ex­pand and re­in­vest in Phil­adelphia,” Nut­ter said. “Thank you to all of the part­ners in­volved and to the en­tire Di­etz & Wat­son fam­ily who were a pleas­ure to work with throughout this pro­cess.”

Di­etz & Wat­son will in­vest more than $50 mil­lion at its cam­pus. It will con­struct a 200,000-square-foot dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter and a fleet-main­ten­ance fa­cil­ity, and will en­hance its cor­por­ate headquar­ters and man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity.

A new con­vey­or sys­tem will trans­fer food from its kit­chens dir­ectly to new stor­age fa­cil­it­ies, elim­in­at­ing more than 200 weekly truck trips over the Delaware River.

The ex­pan­sion will add about 20 acres to the ex­ist­ing 22-acre cam­pus. That’s all part of a 73-acre land as­semblage from prop­er­ties owned by the state and the city, along with the privately held Frank­ford Ar­sen­al Busi­ness Cen­ter.

Twenty-three acres will sup­port the state’s boat launch, ex­pan­ded pub­lic river­front trails and open space. The re­main­ing 30 acres will be avail­able for fu­ture com­mer­cial and in­dus­tri­al de­vel­op­ment.

“Our ef­fort to cap­it­al­ize on the na­tion­wide man­u­fac­tur­ing renais­sance starts with the long-aban­doned in­dus­tri­al par­cels in our own back­yard,” Hen­on said. “By at­tract­ing the right busi­nesses for these spaces, we can make Phil­adelphia a man­u­fac­tur­ing cen­ter once again.”

Louis Eni, pres­id­ent and CEO of Di­etz & Wat­son and grand­son of Got­tlieb Di­etz, said his com­pany will forever be grate­ful to the people of Del­anco for wel­com­ing the busi­ness. He thanked them for their pa­tience and sup­port dur­ing the cleanup after the fire.

Eni said the new cam­pus will be the real­iz­a­tion of a dream, adding that the com­pany is “proud to call Phil­adelphia and the Delaware Val­ley our home.”

“This is a tre­mend­ous op­por­tun­ity for our fam­ily-owned com­pany to grow in the city and state that has sup­por­ted us for 75 years,” he said. “We had our eye on this prop­erty nearly 10 years ago, when we first began plans to build a large dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter, but it wasn’t avail­able at the time. Our fam­ily thought long and hard about the de­cision to leave New Jer­sey. But in the end, we be­lieve it’s the right de­cision for our em­ploy­ees, our cus­tom­ers and for the fu­ture of our com­pany.”

Di­etz & Wat­son re­ceived fund­ing from the state De­part­ment of Com­munity and Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment that in­cluded a $2 mil­lion grant, with an­oth­er $125,000 to be used for skills train­ing for cur­rent and new em­ploy­ees.

The com­pany is also eli­gible to ap­ply for a $5 mil­lion loan from the Ma­chinery and Equip­ment Loan Fund, a $2.25 mil­lion loan from the Pennsylvania In­dus­tri­al De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity and $5 mil­lion in Re­devel­op­ment Cap­it­al As­sist­ance Pro­gram funds.

John Grady, pres­id­ent of PIDC, said the ex­pan­sion, job cre­ation, ex­ten­ded wa­ter­front re­cre­ation and po­ten­tial for ad­di­tion­al man­u­fac­tur­ing mark a win for the city, state and busi­ness and res­id­en­tial com­munit­ies.

“We are thrilled to be able to help Di­etz & Wat­son, a ven­er­able ho­met­own fam­ily busi­ness, con­tin­ue to grow here in Phil­adelphia,” he said. ••

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