Natural foods firm Smart Balance moving headquarters from New Jersey to Boulder
Smart Balance Inc., the operator of natural foods brands such as Udi's Gluten Free and Earth Balance, is relocating its headquarters to Boulder from New Jersey and renaming the entity Boulder Brands Inc., company officials announced Tuesday.
Smart Balance (Nasdaq: SMBL) plans to base its corporate operations in downtown Boulder, where it expects to employ 50 to 60 people within its first year, said Steve Hughes, the company's chief executive officer and chairman.
"I've always viewed Boulder as the Silicon Valley of food," said Hughes, who previously served as an executive at Celestial Seasonings in Boulder and who has been based in Niwot when heading Smart Balance. "Boulder is synonymous with the (natural foods) industry, and we want to be right down there in the thick of things."
The sentiment was echoed by Naturally Boulder, the locally based nonprofit aimed at marketing and growing the Boulder natural products industry.
"Today's announcement by Smart Balance confirms Boulder's position as the Silicon Valley of the organic and natural products industry," Doug Radi, Naturally Boulder board president, said in a statement emailed to the Camera. "Companies like Smart Balance are drawn here because of the depth of resources our community offers, ranging from brand marketing and creative talent, to product development and finance expertise, to the ready availability of capital for smart, sustainable business ideas.
"Key Smart Balance businesses and executives have roots here in the Boulder/Denver area, and we're delighted to welcome their new headquarters to Boulder."
As part of the reorganization, Smart Balance will maintain an office in New Jersey, for its finance and back office operations, and the company closed a former Glutino office in Lawrence, Mass., he said. Smart Balance plans to close a corporate office for the recently acquired Udi's and move those employees to expanded facilities in Aurora and to Boulder.
Hughes said he expects the headcount in Boulder to grow as the years progress.
The move represents a bit of a homecoming for Smart Balance.
Seven years ago, Hughes and business partner Jim Lewis formed Boulder Specialty Brands Inc. as a company focused on acquiring food and beverage companies. The two took the company to the public markets to fund its operations, and at the end of 2005, Boulder Specialty Brands had raised $102.1 million in an initial public offering.
The "blank check" IPO proved successful.
A year later, Boulder Specialty Brands used a combination of a private sale of its stock, proceeds from a public stock sale and debt to fund a $465 million acquisition of New Jersey-based GFA Brands Inc., which made Smart Balance and Earth Balance spread products.
The company subsequently rebranded as Smart Balance Inc. and moved the corporate headquarters to Paramus, N.J.