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Rich Products buys plant in Georgia

Rich Products Corp. is expanding its food production capacity in the Southeast.

The Buffalo-based producer of frozen and nondairy foods paid $2.5 million last month to buy a vacant plant in the Atlanta suburbs, according to real estate listing service LoopNet Inc.

Rich has no immediate plans for the 189,000-square-foot facility in Lithonia, Ga., but viewed the purchase as a way to bolster its manufacturing presence in the fast-growing Southeastern United States, said Dwight Gram, a company spokesman.

"It's really more of an opportunistic buy for us," Gram said. "We saw an opportunity to secure a property that could be ramped up quickly" because it was originally designed to make food products.

Rich already has two other plants in Georgia. One, in Brunswick, makes battered and breaded items, such as mozzarella sticks, and shrimp and seafood products. The other, in Waycross, makes Farm Rich-branded appetizer products, such as pizza slices and quesadillas, as well as doughnuts.

"Having this location secured now gives us the opportunity to strengthen our manufacturing portfolio, especially in that region of the country -- where we are projecting continued growth," Gram said. "We'll make decisions about how we may leverage the site as we enter into our normal three-year planning process later this year."

The Lithonia plant is located on more than 17 acres in an industrial area within a half-mile of Interstate 20 and about 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta. Almost a third of the facility consists of freezer space.

The plant, which opened in 1970, originally was used to process poultry. It was sold in 1980 and expanded to make pie shells, cookies, waffles, tortillas and burritos. The facility was sold again in 2004 to Miller International Baking and used to make biscuits, but fell into foreclosure two years ago.

The property originally was listed for $2.95 million.

Brokers representing the seller, Charter Bank, estimated that building a similar facility today would cost more than$12 million.