Less than month after a fire leveled its bakery, Rustic Crust in Pittsfield is poised to return to the business of making pizza.
“Back in early March, we predicted we’d be ready in three weeks, and we are,” says Brad Sterl, Rustic Crust's president and CEO. “Thanks to round-the-clock work by contractors, consultants and our own staff, we’ll be back in production next week and sending out product by the end of the month.”
Rustic Crust, which produces Rustic Crust ready-made pizza crusts and frozen American Flatbread pizza, has completed renovation work in a 65,000 square-foot facility on Main Street, less than a mile from the pizza bakery destroyed by fire March 6. The Main Street structure also houses the company’s offices and warehouse.
Less than a week after the fire, Sterl promised he’d continue paying employees as the company worked to resume operations. Many staff took advantage of training sessions and other activities during the down time, and still received a weekly check.
There are plans to hire even more workers, says Sterl, estimating that his new hires will total between 15 and 20 in the next six to nine months.
Sterl says, “I specifically want to thank Mark Carrier Construction for really coming through and putting in the effort and the hours to get us back up to speed. ... We’ve been overwhelmed by the many messages of concern and encouragement. ... People all over New Hampshire, New England and the country have offered help, and we really appreciate the support.”
Sterl says he expects to begin shipping by the end of April with a focus to get his regular distributors' inventory back to normal.
Rustic Crust was founded in 1996 and is the #1 U.S. national brand of natural prepared, ready-made pizza crusts. American Flatbread is a market leader in natural frozen flatbread pizzas and available in supermarkets, health, and gourmet stores nationwide.