8 Surprising Things Manufactured In Jax

Jacksonville's manufacturing scene is a Florida anomaly. Here's a list a few products being produced locally that you may find surprising.

Published September 2, 2015 in Culture - MetroJacksonville.com

1. Bacardi USA

Bacardi Partners with Ryder to Promote Sustainable Shipping Practices from 3BL Media on Vimeo.

Bacardi was founded in 1892 by Facundo Bacardi Masso. Since then, it has remained a family business for over seven generations. At the time of Bacardi’s beginning, rum was not considered a refined drink and was rarely sold in markets and taverns. He decided to try something new, isolating a certain type of yeast in the rum. He also filtered it through charcoal and used white oak barrels. The result was the world’s first white rum; the Bacardi we know and love today. Facundo and his brother bought a distillery in 1862. This distillery was infested with fruit bats, inspiring Bacardi’s logo.

Bacardi grew internationally, with generation after generation helping to run the business. The Cuban Revolution caused some turbulence for both the Bacardi family and the company. The Bacardi family had maintained a fierce opposition to Fidel Castro's revolution. So, the Castro regime confiscated the company’s Cuban assets on 15 October 1960, particularly nationalizing and banning all private property on the island as well as all bank accounts, forcing the family, and the business, to move from Cuba.

While Bacardi is still not sold in Cuba today, it is widely popular internationally. The company employs over 6,000 people, manufactures at nearly 30 different facilities across 4 continents, and they now have more than 200 brands in their portfolio.

Bacardi's 92-acre Jacksonville bottling plant, at 12200 North Main Street, is the company's largest in the Americas region. It produces nearly 45,000 cases of rum daily and supplies absolutely all of the Bacardi rum available and consumed in the US. It also serves as Bacardi's headquarters for global product research and development.  

2. Emory Manufacturing Corporation

Courtesy of kingfish254 at http://s914.photobucket.com/user/kingfish254/media/Emory Mojave/WP_001032.jpg.html

Emory Manufacturing began with the name Aero-Fast and two brothers. Clayton and Willard Smith opened up their first bike shop in 1944. Primarily a retail store, the brothers decided they wanted in on wholesales, too. So, Clayton sold his house, and with that money, they bought a carload of Road Master bikes. They packed their bags and headed north from their Miami sore to relocate in Jacksonville only 4 years later, where they became the southeastern distributors for Arnold Schwinn. At the time, Arnold Schwinn was one of the most dominating manufactures of bikes in the US.

It wasn’t until 1976 that the name Emory came around; a result of Clayton and his son building bikes for government and industrial uses. These bikes were single speed, with wide, comfy seats and came to be known as the “beach cruiser” bikes; the first one of their kind. They sold nearly 5000 bikes a year until the bottom fell out of the industry. All the other major bike manufacturers had taken their business to China, and, as a result, the American bike market was gone.

Clayton Jr. is still working here in Jacksonville today, determined to bring the Emory bike back to life. You can find Emory Manufacturers at 1730 Westcott Street.

3. Gate Precast Company

Courtesy of Gate Precast Company

Gate began with a small little gas station on Jacksonville’s Northside and a man named Herbert Peyton. The company came to be known as Gate Petroleum. While profitable for several years, the oil crisis of 1972 made Peyton realize that diversification in the company might be good.

Gate Precast Company is Gate's oldest non-petroleum division. Acquired in 1980, the company provides prestressed concrete products for bridges, parking garages, total precast dormitories, stadiums and building structures throughout Florida. Notable local projects include the I-95/I-10 interchange and the Dames Point Bridge.

Located on the Trout River, Gate's massive 85-acre precast concrete plant has an annual capacity of producing 65,000 cubic yards of Prestressed Concrete and 3 Million square feet of Hollow Core. It includes an 144,000 square-foot enclosed production facility and  features complete barge-loading capabilities for distribution to the Gulf and Atlantic coast destinations.  

Gate Precast Company can be found at 402 Zoo Parkway.

4. Heinz Portion Control

Heinz was founded by Henry Heinz way back in 1869. He and a friend, Clarence Noble, were packaging horseradish on a small scale and selling it in Pennsylvania. Not even ten years later, the company would go bankrupt though. The Heinz family didn’t give up, though. Henry partnered up with his brother John, and cousin Fredrick, and began the company F & J Heinz. One of the company’s first products was their now-famous tomato ketchup.

courtesy of the NY Daily News

They were back on their feet; the company getting bigger and better this time. By 1888, Henry bought out his two partners, changing the name of the company to H.J. Heinz. Their slogan “57 varieties” came about 10 years later, when Heinz decided to mimic a sign design he had seen in NYC advertising 21 styles of shoes. He chose 57 at random.

Today, Heinz manufactures thousands of food products in 6 continents and more than 200 countries. They also claim to have 150 number-one and number-two products ranked worldwide. They have a factory here in Jacksonville, which helps produce their portion control products. This factory opened up in 1997, originally under the name “Portion Pac,” before becoming a subsidiary of the Heinz Company. Their facility is over 100,000 square feet, where they produce things like the small little ketchup packets, mustard packets, dressings, and jams that you see in restaurants and hotels.

The Heinz building is located at 7500 Forshee Drive.

5. Hilex Poly

Hilex Poly is the industry's leading manufacturer of plastic bags for produce and retail use. They are widely known for Bag-2-Bag, the world’s largest closed loop plastic bag recycling center. They take plastic retail bags, turn them back in to resin pellets, and then back in to new bags, reducing a consumers' shopping carbon footprint and preserving natural resources.

Hilex is a subsidiary of the NOVOLEX Company. Based in Hartsville, SC, NOVOLEX employs more than 5,000 people at 31 facilities in the United States, with 3 in Canada as well. They produce everything from paper and plastic bags, to coffee liners. Major brands of NOVOLEX include De Luxe, Pac Paper, and Hilex Poly.

Courtesy of Novolex.com

Hilex Poly's Jacksonville plant can is located at 500 Ellis Road.

6. Martin Coffee Company

Martin Coffee on East Bay Street. The storefront served as an office while the vertical roasting and packaging operations were spread out over two floors. Image courtesy of Martin Coffee Company.

Martin Coffee Company has been in Jacksonville since before the 1940s. The company began with Fred Martin, who came to Jacksonville at the age of 19 as a coffee salesman for Bingham Coffee Company.

He spent over 20 years with that company, having become a partial owner. However, it would be sold in 1957. Still believing there was a niche for the product, Fred and Amy Martin purchased Bartley's Coffee Company that same year, to open the Martin Coffee Company inside of a downtown Jacksonville warehouse on East Bay Street.

By the 1980s, operating a roasting facility on East Bay Street had become difficult. The space was cramped and shipping and receiving items by truck, meant moving them by hand from the street to the back of the building.  In 1987, the company relocated to a larger facility at 1633 Marshall Street, near Talleyrand Avenue.

Some 25 years later, the company remains a fixture in the Jacksonville community and is run by Fred’s grandson, Ben.  The company's website proudly proclaims that over 750 million cups of Martin Coffee have been served since 1957.

Martin Coffee is located at 1613 Marshall Street.

7. Safe Harbor Seafood

Many people identify Safe Harbor Seafood as a popular eatery along the St. Johns River in Mayport. The restaurant offers a wide array of fresh seafood dishes, as well as outside seating so guests can see the river. However, Safe Harbor is much more than just a restaurant.

It's is a family business, ran and owned by Gerald Pack, that includes a restaurant, fresh fish market and a seafood processing plant. Pack is responsible mostly for the plant; his daughter, Deanna, and his son-in-law, Christopher, run the restaurant and market.

The seafood processing plant is the last longtime fish house still standing in Mayport that processes shrimp and other fishing products. Here, local fishermen dock and fuel their boats, buy ice and unload their catch. Safe Harbor prepares much of that catch for retailers, such as Publix and Winn-Dixie.

Located at 4371 Ocean Street, the seafood processing facility sits on 4.5 acres and covers over 53,000 square feet of office, processing and warehouse space.

8. US Gypsum Company

The product gypsum dates back to the 1890s, when a method was finely perfected that a retarded plaster mixture. This made it a viable competitor to line plaster. Plus, it was fairly easy to make and much cheaper at the time. In 1901, 30 different gypsum plaster companies decided to merge, forming what we know as the United States Gypsum Company. This company was the first of its kind in the U.S.

The USG Company today manufactures construction materials, drywall, and joint compounds. They are the largest distributor of wallboard in the U.S., as well as the largest manufacturer of gypsum products. Some of their most significant brands include: SHEETROCK, FIBEROCK, and Tuff Hide.

USG's Jacksonville plant is located along the St. Johns River in Panama Park and dates back to 1939. It's one of the company's larger facilities, covering 42.8 acres of land, producing more than 23 million sheets of wallboard annually. The 700,000 square foot industrial complex includes a paper mill designed to manufacture a full line of chipboard papers utilized exclusively for the company’s gypsum products. USG's complex also serves as a distribution center for their DUROCK brand cement board, FIBEROCK brand gypsum fiber panels, wallboard accessories and dry setting-type compounds. Products made in Jacksonville are shipped nationally as well as internationally to Central and South America.

USG Company can be found at 6825 Evergreen Avenue.

Additional Articles from the Unique Products Produced In Jax Series

8 Unique Products Produced In Jax

7 Unique Products Produced In Jax

7 Unique Products Produced In Jax

Article by Kristen Pickrell.

Top image courtesy of Sage Saturn

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-sep-8-surprising-things-manufactured-in-jax

Metro Jacksonville

Copyright MetroJacksonville.com