Westrock Coffee to Buy New 56,000-SF Production Facility in NLR

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010 3:29 pm  

Westrock Coffee will purchase a 56,000-SF production facility in North Little Rock, company officials announced Thursday.

Westrock is based in North Little Rock, and was formerly known as Coffee Legends. The roughly $5 million production facility is located at 30 Collins Industrial Place.

Current roasting operations will relocate to the new facility to expand capacity and offer what Westrock officials call more consistent quality and efficient production using new automated roasting equipment.

"The relocation and expansion of our roasting facility will serve as the foundation for the continued growth of our roasting business," said Steve McElhanon, Westrock CEO.

The facility is expected to be in production by the fourth quarter of 2010. Once the expansion is complete, Westrock will have about 25 employees in central Arkansas.

Westrock Coffee will roast coffees sourced from multiple coffee-growing regions. In addition, the company will roast premium Rwandan coffees shipped to the North Little Rock facility by Little Rock's Rwanda Trading Company, which is a coffee processor and exporter that owns a green-coffee dry mill in Kigali, Rwanda.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame visited Arkansas this week and met with business executives as well as Rwanda students in the area.  

"The business that Rwanda Trading Company and Westrock Coffee are developing both in Rwanda and in Arkansas is an excellent example of partnerships that Rwanda seeks, one that strengthens our economy by building a bridge to the U.S. market for products produced by the Rwandan people," Kagame said in a news release about the expansion.

Rwanda Trading was established in 2009 by a group of former Alltel executives who went to Rwanda to find for-profit business opportunities that were capitalistic in nature and would also make a meaningful difference in the lives of Rwandans.

Since then, the company has invested several million dollars in the Kigali facility to improve working conditions and raise wages for employees. As a result, Rwanda Trading has significantly increased its exports. In 2010, the company projects exports will increase fourfold over the previous year.

"We have built a significant network of suppliers in Rwanda to improve the efficiency of the coffee supply chain in that country," McElhanon said. "Our new facility in North Little Rock will enhance our ability to deliver premium Rwandan coffee products to our customers across the country."

Both Westrock Coffee and Rwanda Trading are divisions of Westrock Coffee Holdings LLC, wholly owned by Little Rock-based Westrock Capital Partners, which invests in public and private securities of companies engaging in agriculture, communications, technology and certain other endeavors. 



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