A recently renovated building in the corner of an industrial park is now home to product development for a $2 billion Michigan company.
Dawn Foods opened the Innovation Studio in April at the Jackson building. Dawn is a third-generation food manufacturer that started with doughnuts and now offers 4,000 product lines in more than 100 countries, MLive reported.
The studio is the company's first stand-alone research and development center. It combines the art and science behind baking to bring advancements to Dawn's share of the baking and ingredient industry.
"The studio has been a vision for the company for several years," said Becky Loveland, the company's vice president of marketing for the U.S. and Canada. "It was just trying to find that right time, and the right place to put it."
The goal of the center is to work as a staff and with customers to innovate across three key product lines. Dawn makes bakery ingredients for business customers, ready-to-finish baked goods and ready-to-sell baked goods.
"We do all kinds of testing here, from the beginning of a product to the end of its shelf life," said Melinda Kempton, senior director of the center. "And through all of the applications where we might use that 50-pound bag of mix."
Scientists, application chefs and technicians are based at the center, moving from the client meeting space to the test kitchen, lab benches and high-tech testing equipment.
Dawn Foods has an estimated 40,000 customers that range from major groceries and food service providers to artisanal bakeries and restaurants.
"Having the R&D (research and development) team here to understand all of those interrelationships is really important for the long run," Loveland said.
She said the Innovation Center is the first step toward making a more creative and collaborative environment. She also said it signals how the company will look at technology to aid sales, packaging and production.
Dawn didn't disclose the cost of the center.