By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen
A familiar face in the gourmet food industry has returned economically to Urbana to grow her business.
Mary O'Donnell, now a CEO, helped lead the former Rothschild Farm product line during her time in Urbana. Her new venture, Terrapin Ridge Farms, is leasing 8,500 square feet inside the Damewood Enterprises warehouse at 700 W. Court St., from which they ship a variety of gourmet food products all over the United States. O'Donnell said that Terrapin Ridge Farms has reached a sales volume level that economically makes sense for the company to take over the operation versus working with a third party logistics company. She said she selected Urbana because she wanted to employ current warehouse manager Jackie Barr, with whom she had worked over seven years at Robert Rothschild Farm.
"This is tremendously exciting for us, as we know we will be able to improve our customer service, order turnaround time and accuracy," said O'Donnell.
"When I discovered Jackie Barr was available, the location naturally became Urbana, Ohio, where Jackie resides. I knew Jackie would do a great job and the transition would be smooth with her on board. We have already seen great improvements in customer service and cost reductions. "
In addition to Barr, seven other local jobs were created by Terrapin Ridge Farms in the areas of packing, shipping, labeling, and some pricing for specific customers. Six of those positions were filled by former Rothschild employees who were either laid off or temporarily moved outside the county when Rothschild was acquired by Chicago-based Glencoe Capital Management and was consolidated with Clearbrook Farms in Cincinnati.
"When we lost Rothschild's that was a big hit for our community," said Champaign Economic Partnership Director Marcia Bailey. "Having this kind of a footprint back, and hopefully more expansion coming, is amazing. "
Barr said that she started setting up the warehouse in mid-January and began distributing at the end of January. The majority of Terrapin Ridge Farms products are produced in the Midwest and it made sense to have a distribution hub near the company's suppliers, at least one of which is located near Dayton, she said.
The only store in Champaign County offering Terrapin Ridge Farms products is Mad River Farm Market. Their products can also be purchased via www.terrapinridge.com. Barr said that in her experience, businesses involving gourmet foods become more active in the third and fourth quarter of the year, and that it was possible they may require additional help around the holidays. She said she would like to see the company grow in Urbana, but suspected that they would not be hiring any more regular workers for another year at least.Read More