CLAYSBURG - While many companies continue to struggle, Shirley's Cookie Co. is adding jobs and expanding.
The business, located in the William Ward Industrial Park, is in the midst of hiring 40 to 45 new workers and plans to have a third production shift up and running by mid-September.
Shirley's has hired 25 people in the last few weeks and hopes to add another 15 to 20 before starting up the third shift, said President W. Zane Feathers, who established the family business in 1967 when he bought a Duncansville doughnut shop.
Mirror photo illustration by Gary M. Baranec and Hannah Frank
Shirley's Cookies in Claysburg will be expanding to a third work shift to keep up with demand.
When Zane's daughter, Patty Shaw, joined the company, Shirley's Cookie Co. was born in 1990.
The reason for expansion is quite simple.
"Our business has been growing and we were not able to keep up with the demand for our products," Feathers said.
The addition of the production and packaging positions, which pay a starting salary of $8.29 per hour plus some benefits, will enable other employees to be moved into supervisory positions.
Shirley's, which started production in a 3,000-square-foot building in Duncansville, has shown tremendous growth in its 20 years in business growing from revenues of about $36,000 in 1990 to nearly $9 million today, Feathers said.
"We started this business with eight people," said Patty Shaw, who serves as a vice president and handles the company's sales.
The addition of the new jobs will bring employment up to about 140.
The company moved into its present facility in 2003 and expanded the building from 32,000 square feet to 42,000 square feet in 2007.
Shirley's produces about 26,000 dozen cookies a day and will make even more once the third shift is up and running.
"We are looking at a 20 percent increase in production with the addition of the third shift," Feathers said.
Raisin-filled and no-bake cookies continue to be Shirley's most popular products.
"Raisin-filled is our signature cookie," said vice president Bryan Shaw, Patty's husband, who joined the company in 2005 and works with Feathers on the day-to-day operations.
"The no-bake business is the product that has taken us nationwide," Patty Shaw said.
Shirley's products which also include old fashioned sugar cookies, snickerdoodles and pumpkin-raisin cookies in addition to several flavors of their popular whoopie pies, can be found in 48 states.
Shirley's doesn't make chocolate chip cookies.
We don't make the every day cookies, we make all niche-type products," Patty Shaw said.
Most Shirley's Cookies are sold under private labels and can be found in larger grocery stores and "mom and pop" stores.
"Eighty-five to 90 percent of our business is private label business. Our cookies are shipped from coast to coast," Patty Shaw said. "In 20 years, we have gone from serving the community to serving the nation."
Shirley's products also can be found in convenience stores.
"We are individually wrapping products and making them available for convenience stores to put on their shelves," Feathers said. "The country is full of companies like Sheetz; they are big but there are others out there."
Shirley's employees have been the key to the company's success.
"Through growth, we were able to hire supervisors, production coordinators, line leaders, a human resources staff and office personnel," Feathers said. "All of them go into making the organization successful. We owe it to them, they are our backbone."
The future remains bright for the company.
"We have a lot of avenues to go after. We are always looking to develop new products if there is a market for them," Patty Shaw said. "The recession has hurt, but people are still going to the grocery store and treating themselves at the bakery."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.