Almost six years after investing more than $160 million to build a manufacturing facility in Oakwood, King’s Hawaiian Bakery East is recognized as one of the best manufacturing companies in Georgia.
Gov. Nathan Deal this week honored the family-owned and operated company known best for its Hawaiian bread with the 2017 Manufacturer of the Year Award in the category of 500 or more employees.
With 650 employees, King’s Hawaiian ranks 17th among the top-20 employers in Hall County, according to 2016 numbers compiled by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
King’s Hawaiian CEO Mark Taira accepted the award during the annual Manufacturing Appreciation Award banquet held in Atlanta on Thursday.
“Georgia has something very special — it’s got ‘Aloha,’” Taira said. “And that’s being a gracious host, sharing, kindness and collaboration.”
King’s Hawaiian opened its Oakwood operations in 2011 by bringing 160 jobs to the area. The company’s rapid expansion and contributions to the community helped it earn the Manufacturer of the Year Award.
Ron Hathy, plant manager at the local King’s Hawaiian facility, said the company may not be finished growing.
“We have infrastructure to add a fourth production line that we anticipate will occur in the next two or so years,” Hathy said.
That would add an additional 120 employees, Hathy said.
“That’s pretty amazing when you think about it,” Hathy said. “We broke ground in 2010 and started in 2011. To add that many headcount from 2011 to today and have the ability to add a fourth line is pretty amazing.”
Deal has recognized the bakery and distribution company’s rapid growth and more than $100 million investment over the past few years.
“In its relatively short time in Georgia, King’s Hawaiian has proved a valuable member of our corporate community,” Deal said after the company’s most recent expansion. “The growth and success of King’s Hawaiian’s will benefit northeast Georgia for many years to come.”
The company was founded in 1950 by the late family patriarch Robert Taira. King’s Hawaiian also operates a baking facility in Torrance, Calif.
The state also recognized Great Dane — a company that engineers trailers in Statesboro — in the 150-500 employee category. Grenzebach in Newnan., a leader in automated systems, won in the 150 or fewer category.
“I want to thank our manufacturers for being part of what has made Georgia the best state in the nation in which to do business for the fourth consecutive year,” Deal said.