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Clif Bar building bakery in Twin Falls

TWIN FALLS — Standing in a 90-acre lot Thursday, with the wind occasionally whipping up dust storms in the distance, Clif Bar & Company CEO Kevin Cleary acknowledged the ground didn’t look like much.

“But trust me, in a few months we will have a beautiful bakery on this site,” he said.

Clif Bar hosted its groundbreaking ceremony Thursday featuring Clif Bar executives and state and local officials offering plenty of mutual praise about the deal that landed the organic foods and drink maker.

Cleary said Clif Bar officials looked at many areas in the West to find a place where the company and employees could thrive.

“This feels like home for us,” he said.

The company will spend an estimated $90 million to build the 275,000-square-foot bakery. It is a first for Clif Bar, which currently contracts with other companies to produce its products. Construction of the bakery will start April 1 at the Jayco Industrial Park. Company officials project the bakery will go online in April 2016.

Once fully operational, it will employ more than 200 workers. That number is expected to increase as the bakery expands.

Wearing a black “Clif Bar Team” T-shirt, Gary Erickson, who founded the company in 1992, joked that “There’s no turning back now.” He recalled the time when, on a 175-mile bike ride, he had a “moment I call my epiphany.” He was snacking, or trying to snack, on a competitor’s brand of energy bars during the ride, and said he knew he could create a better-tasting product.

He started to spend hours in his mother’s kitchen and eventually produced the first Clif Bars.

“My parents always said ‘go for it’ and I guess this is one of those moments where we are going for it,” he said.

The bakery will be one of a kind, Clif Bar officials said. “We want to create a different kind of bakery,” Cleary said.

Skylights will allow natural light to flood the bakery and the facility will house state of the art processing and packaging equipment. Employee break rooms will have direct access to outdoor areas, including landscaped areas featuring habitat for butterflies and bees, as well as an onsite amphitheater for company events and celebrations.

Clif Bar preaches sustainability in each of five areas — business, brands, people, community and planet. The bakery will have many environmentally friendly features, including LED lighting and a roof that maximizes energy efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The building will also capture heat that would have otherwise been wasted and use it to make Clif Bars.

“We look forward to working with Clif Bar as a long-term partner to strengthen our economy and together act as good stewards to the environment,” said Twin Falls Mayor Don Hall.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Clif Bar has given him bragging rights when he attends meetings attended by officials from other states. He said when they ask how Idaho was able to land a company that is touted as an excellent place to work and promises to pay a living wage, Otter said he replies “They found us and we found them.”

March 15, 2015 9:30 am  •