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February 25, 2021

Origin Labs buys North Jay warehouse to serve nutritional supplement market

Courtesy / Origin Labs Farmington-based Origin Labs bought a 57,014-square-foot industrial building in North Jay to expand its nutritional drinks and supplement arm.

A Farmington-based manufacturer of energy drinks and nutritional supplements acquired a 60,000-square-foot warehouse to accommodate growing demand.

Origin Labs LLC bought 1149 Main St. in North Jay from NEPW Logistics Inc. for $1.7 million.

Tom Dunham from NAI The Dunham Group brokered the sale.

The 57,014-square-foot industrial building on 33.9 acres includes a large warehouse, offices and six loading docks. 

Origin is a manufacturer of apparel, boots, fitness gear and nutritional supplements. In 2020, it was ranked No. 362 on Inc. 500's fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. 

Its founder, Pete Roberts, is a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and a 2018 Mainebiz Next award honoree.

Courtesy / Origin Labs
Peter Roberts, owner of Origin Labs.

The company grew out of Roberts’s business selling imported Jiu-Jitsu gear online in 2011. 

“What impresses me is their strong desire to retain their growth within Franklin County,” said Dunham. 

Dunham said he feels a personal connection to the region.

“That area is important to me, given the loss of manufacturing employment over the past 30-plus years,” he said in an email. “Fortunately, Farmington remains the county seat and the retail and medical center for this region of the Western Mountains. Another major plus is the University of Maine Farmington.”

He noted that he’s enjoyed the region’s recreational opportunities — such as hiking, canoeing, skiing and fishing — for decades. 

“Over the years I have wanted to use what skills I have to promote diversifying the economy in this area of the state,” he continued. “Over the past two years I have been fortunate to have established a solid working relationship  with Pete and his team.”

Fourth location

The North Jay plant is Origin’s fourth location, said Roberts. 

Courtesy / NAI The Dunham Group
A 57,014-square-foot industrial building in North Jay was viewed by buyer Origin Labs as ideal for its size and its proximity to its other facilities in Farmington and Wilton.

The company has apparel and footwear factories in Farmington and the headquarters for its nutritional products in Wilton. The nutritional arm of the company has expanded beyond the capacity of the 20,000-square-foot space in Wilton, he said.

“The new facility in Jay is about 60,000 square feet, which we’re super-stoked about,” he said. 

The plant is only about five miles from the Wilton facility. The company’s nutritional division has about 15 to 20 employees. They move between the properties on a regular basis. 

The location will serve as a warehouse and distribution center for a line of drinks and supplements called Jocko Fuel, Roberts said. It could potentially serve as corporate headquarters at some point in the future, he added.

Courtesy / Origin Labs
The building includes a large warehouse, offices and six loading docks.

Roberts said he’d had his eye on the North Jay plant for a couple of years. 

“I looked all over Maine for the last two years,” he said. “We looked at building and buying. This one doesn’t stretch our team out across the state. I wanted to keep everyone in Franklin County.”

He financed the purchase through his regular lender, Franklin Savings Bank.

Wawa and Vitamin Shoppe

The company moved in several months ago and has gradual plans for building it out as distribution expands, he said. The line is found through the company’s website and in major retailers Wawa, a Pennsylvania-based chain of 900 East Coast convenience stores; and New Jersey-based Vitamin Shoppe, which has 750 stores. Jocko Fuel launched in more than 200 Wawa stores in Florida last fall, according to a news release. 

Courtesy / Origin Labs
Fit-up of racks is underway at the facility.

“We’re in the process of talking with Wal-Mart about national distribution, and a couple of other big accounts,” said Roberts. 

The line is a joint venture between Origin Labs and John “Jocko” Willink, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL Officer, author and podcast host. 

Roberts expects to move 20 to 30 million cans of its Jocko Fuel drinks this year, plus supplements and protein powders.

That’s at least a four-fold increase over 2019, he said.

Roberts said his products aim to be a healthier alternative to sugary, caffeinated drinks. 

“Consumers don’t need a bunch of sugar and caffeine,” he said. “We saw a movement toward being more health-conscious.”

COVID has accelerated healthy trends, he said.

“We feel like we’ve broken through not just to health-conscious people but to everybody,” he said. “Because of COVID, I think people want to be healthier. So I think this was the right product at the right time.”

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