30 new jobs coming to the Columbus area as former NCR building in Midland gets new tenant

A new business that helps food and beverage companies create innovative products is coming to Columbus with the promise to create 30 jobs and invest more than $5 million.

The company, Califormulations LLC, is currently retrofitting a 100,000-square-foot facility in the Muscogee Technology Park in Midland, a space recently vacated by NCR Corp. and used by Cessna Aircraft from 2008-2009.

The new business will help to attract the kind of talent that is needed in the city and could help bring other food and beverage companies to Columbus, according to Brian Sillitto, executive vice president of economic development with the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The city is already home to large corporations like Refresco, Snyder’s-Lance and Hostess.

“We hope to be able to recruit other companies in that space, we feel like we have a competitive advantage here in Columbus,” Sillitto said. “A lot of times food and beverage companies use a lot of water, and we obviously have an abundant water resource with the Chattahoochee River. Columbus Water Works is permitted to withdraw 90 million gallons a day, and I think right now we’re probably drawing about a third of that.”

According to Califormulations President Toby Polhamus, the business is filling a gap in the food and beverage industry by helping existing food and beverage companies get new products on the market faster and at a lower cost.

“In large organizations it took so long to get decisions made that by the time they got something ready to go to market, the idea was no longer innovative or they had changed directions by the time they executed,” Polhamus said. “They realized ‘okay, we’re spending a lot of money, we can spend less money and have someone help us do this that’s much better at it.’ That’s what we’re engaged for.”

Though the company will have some manufacturing capability, its purpose is not large-scale or long-term manufacturing of packaged food and beverage products.

“We’re here to help them bring it to life, run enough to get it into the market so they can test it, and if they move forward with the project then we help them move on to larger manufacturers,” Polhamus said.

Califormulations has three ownership groups, including a local management team headed by Polhamus, who lives in Harris County and started his career in the beverage industry in Columbus in 1992, at RC Cola.

The two other partners are Symrise, a large public company that produces flavors and fragrances, and Green Organic Dutchman Holding Ltd., a Canadian cannabis company which serves as an investor.

“Symrise give us the ability to move quickly because they’re engaged to do the flavor work and have that capability already in-house,” Polhamus said.

Califormulations customers will have access to the innovation services at three locations including Columbus: others are in Teterboro, New Jersey and Laguna Beach, California. Everyone on the local management team is Columbus-based, Polhamus said, which was a significant factor in the choice to set up the business here.

Columbus’ rich history in food and beverage was also a key factor, as well as the current local restaurant scene.

“Over the last five to seven years you’ve seen such a continued growth in the local food and beverage scene...and what’s really nice about that for us is it gives a customer experience so if we want to do treks with customers and they want to ideate, we can connect locally and work with a very diverse and fantastic food and beverage scene in Columbus, which has established itself regionally as something really very good,” Polhamus said.

Work on the facility is underway and the company should come fully online in the first quarter of 2020, Polhamus said. The company will start hiring in December and January.

Allie Dean is the Columbus city government and accountability reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer, and also writes about new restaurants, developments and issues important to readers in the Chattahoochee Valley. She’s a graduate of the University of Georgia.