Maplewood Beverage Packers, LLC, a Maplewood, NJ manufacturer, bottles and packages Arizona Ice Tea products. The company hosted a visited by State Legislator, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and her Chief of Staff, Mary Theroux. Neil Richardson, sanitation and safety manager for the company, provided tours of the facility and explained the beverage bottling process. In addition to bottling Arizona Tea beverages the plant also produces its Salsa and Chips Snack Pack.
Assemblywoman Jasey first learned that Arizona Tea products were manufactured in her district when she visited the New Jersey Manufacuring Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP) exhibit at Made in New Jersey Day, an event sponsored by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) held annually at the State House in Trenton. Following the event, Assemblywoman Jasey and NJMEP worked with Rose Anne Semler, HR Manager, to set up the visit.
Food and beverage manufacturing requires a highly controlled environment —beginning with the purification of the water, to the critical temperature control and through to the final air tight packaging. Throughout the tour each of these critical stages were viewed and discussed. Maplewood Beverage Packers, LLC is owned by Arizona Tea and bottles and packages their product exclusively. The day of the tour the Assemblywoman watched as a new product packaging system was being run. A number of the machines used to bottle Arizona Tea are made in the US and the company’s supplies and packaging are all manufactured and supplied by various companies throughout the US. Vinny Paturzo, who oversees the production of Arizonas’s Salsa and Chip Snack Pack, expained the chips, with their unique texture, are manufactured exclusively for Arizona.
The tour ended in plant manager Nick DiMaria’s office, where he and Assemblywoman Jasey discussed the challenges of manufacturing in The State. Like most manufacturers, finding qualified workers is at the top of the list. How to best address that shortage was of particular interest to Assemblywoman Jasey as she is Chair of the Higher Education Committee, is Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and sits on the Education Committee. Her interest in education predates becoming a legislator as she sat on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education 1999-2007.
With a number of proposed bills in the Legislature geared to helping manufacturers, visiting district manufacturers has become important to many of the Legislators. “My tour of Maplewood Beverage Co. was a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand how small manufacturing operations impact the state’s economy and provide much needed good paying jobs. It is also a stark reminder of its importance to our state’s economy and the responsibility we have as legislators to fully support New Jersey’s small businesses, “ explained Assemblywoman Jasey.