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Made In Our Hometown: Once Again Nut Butter

Updated: Thursday, July 11 2013, 02:01 PM EDT

Nunda, NY -- If you search your house, will you find anything labeled "Made in Rochester"? It's possible, and maybe on things you never suspected. We are focusing on local businesses this week in a series called "Made in Our Hometown". We kick things off at "Once Again Nut Butter" in the Livingston County community of Nunda.

The company makes butters like peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter as well as honey and nuts. The logo for the company is a raccoon nicknamed Rocky.

Employee Jake Rawleigh says people "see that raccoon from across the aisle and they know that's us now."

Rocky is on the company's building in the small community of Nunda where they joke there are more cows than people. But this is no small town business.

"I am part of a company that started very small and now we've tripled our growth," says employee Ellen Halbert.

Like every employee at Once Again Nut Butter, Halbert wears many hats. She manages the website, the UPS department and the honey department.

Maybe you've seen their honey for sale in Wegmans. Or maybe you've tasted their cashew butter in Nature Valley granola bars.

Started in a basement in 1976 when it's founders "once again" created another worker co-op, the company moved to the Nunda location in 1981 and is expanding to a building in Perry.

The 40 employees make 59 products under the Once Again label, contribute to 300 private label products and sell ingredients to companies including General Mills.

The secret to success? Ellen says, "I think Once Again is a big family and we all work together because it's our company."

Meaning, it's employee owned (technically an ESOP). Employees make the decisions, including which of the 88 local charities they support, like donating to a Living Legacy Teen Cancer Foundation event. 

And there's an international commitment. Jake Rawleigh is one of the employees who's traveled to Nicaragua to help the farmers who grow the sesame seeds "Once Again" uses. He says, "If you go there and see the impact we have on those communities, it's priceless."

They help by setting up farm co-ops and by paying them US prices, two reasons they are proud to be labeled "fair trade".

In fact, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Once Again is hosting the Annual Domestic Fair Trade conference. It will bring people from all over the country and maybe the world to Nunda and Rochester.

In Nunda, they are labeled "growing". They added on to the south state street location in 2006. And, once again, they are looking to hire and expand.

Ellen jokes, "we'll have to buy half the block."

Made In Our Hometown: Once Again Nut Butter


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