Made in Michigan: Popcorn company awarded state grant, expanding production

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WHITMORE LAKE (WJRT) (09/18/19) -- A metro Detroit based popcorn company is expanding its production of its popular flavored popcorn and pretzels.

"It will add a lot of efficiency to our operations for sure," said Pop Daddy Popcorn owner Mark Sarafa.

Earlier this summer, Pop Daddy Popcorn based in Whitmore Lake received a $125,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The money will allow Pop Daddy to switch to automated equipment without sacrificing jobs.

"We're going to have a bucket conveyor to take the product up to the top of the packaging machine, which will eliminate the ladder. We're going to have an outtake conveyor which will prevent our employees from having to pick up every bag," Sarafa said.

Currently, Pop Daddy yields about 4-5 bags of popcorn and pretzels a minute. The new equipment will increase their capacity to anywhere between 24 and 40 bags per minute. It also means the addition of about a half dozen new jobs for the company.

"Every time a semi truck pulls up, I just kinda shake my head like this is crazy.".

Sarafa isn't the only one excited for the upcoming changes.

"It's going to make things a lot easier around here and it just means growth for us. It looks that were getting bigger and that feels good too," said employee Jayson Dillon.

Dillon has been with Pop Daddy for almost 5 years. He's seen a lot of that growth and not just inside the factory.

"I like to do the trade shows and the demos because I get to see people eat it and it feels good," he said.

And with more product being made with the new equipment next year, both Dillon and Sarafa are hopeful that will also mean new business.

"We kind of go straight down all the way to Florida from Michigan. We're not really east and we're not really west right now. But we feel like the east coast is the next big opportunity for us," Sarafa said.

Pop Daddy Popcorn and pretzels can be found in select Kroger locations and all Meijer stores.

They're also available to purchase on Amazon.

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