Virginia Dare wants to foster a collaborative environment at its new Carteret, NJ facility

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Virginia Dare has relocated its entire operation to Carteret, NJ.

New Virginia Dare facility, courtesy of the company.

New Virginia Dare facility, courtesy of the company.

At the beginning of 2024, Virginia Dare, the flavor manufacturer best known for its vanilla extracts, moved out of the Brooklyn, NY location it called home for 100 years, and relocated to a brand-new facility in Carteret, NJ. The move was years in the making. Virginia Dare began building its Carteret facility in 2018 and eventually moved all of its production to the new facility in 2020, maintaining two locations until this year. With the move to the new facility complete, all of Virginia Dare’s operations are now under one roof.

Mike Springsteen, vice president of business and product development, explained during a tour of the facility provided to members of the media, that its new offices, labs, and production facility were all designed to foster collaboration among staff, as well as clients. The applications laboratory has spaces dedicated to health and wellness, beverages, vanilla, confections, and gummies where food scientists collaborate with one another to solve challenges and create solutions. By bringing all the staff under one roof, the laboratory staff can also utilizes support staff from within the company offices to test different applications and provide feedback. They even have a “sensory facility” with a prep kitchen and tasting room where staff (and clients) can taste samples in a controlled environment, helping Virginia Dare deliver “preferred taste.”

Virginia Dare's sensory facility tasting room.

Virginia Dare's sensory facility tasting room.

When it comes to customer collaboration, bringing everything under one room significantly reduces the time between feedback and revisions. According to Nicole Staniec, Virginia Dare’s vice president of beverage products, having customers be able to directly collaborate with Virginia Dare’s team is not only inspirational but practical.

“We do iterative working sessions where the client comes in, they taste the product, they give some feedback, and then we have the team go back to the labs and either adjust the flavor or the application. And while the client is still here, we can bring the revisions back and have that iterative process over a couple of days so,” explains Staniec. “We can be very efficient in our time and maybe cut down two month’s worth of work into a couple of days. So, I think it will help us bring new innovation to our clients and get their products to market much more quickly.”

Virginia Dare's applications lab

Virginia Dare's applications lab

Eduardo Villagomez, vice president of vanilla products explains that when the company was split between Brooklyn and Carteret, samples were sent between the two facilities by courier or shipped to clients, slowing down communication both internally and with clients. Being able to leverage the feedback of staff on-location helps speed up the production process and being able to host customers within feet of the lab allows for a quick turnaround of samples based on their feedback. “It’s easy for me to go down to my office, test with the team, and it also builds a relationship with the team,” says Villagomez, who enjoys being intimately involved in the development process and collaborating with colleagues to deliver a quality product.

To foster collaboration with West-coast clients, Virginia Dare also has a small technical facility in Pasadena, CA.

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