Aphena Pharma to renovate old chocolate plant, create 200 new jobs

September 16, 2020

Herald-Citizen, Sept. 16, 2019

Aphena -- aphena_0.jpgAphena Pharma Solutions, LLC will invest $27 million to renovate the old Russell Stover plant in Cookeville and hire about 200 new workers over the next five years.

J&S Construction is already renovating the 500,000-square-foot building on Chocolate Drive.

“It’ll start coming together in the next six to eight weeks,” Aphena CEO Shawn Reilley said.

Aphena Pharma makes packaging for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries and employs about 350 people in Cookeville, where it was founded in 2003.

“Our typical client base are the bigger nutritional companies, all the way to big pharmaceutical companies,” said Eric Allen, EVP of Sales.

Allen said the company will keep its 80,000-square-foot Fisk Road presence but will consolidate a warehouse in Algood and another building on Browns Mill Road.

The company also has a 26-acre campus in eastern Maryland, but Allen said the majority of employees are based in Cookeville.

“We’re expanding that operation as well,” he said. “It’s only focused on liquids.”

Aphena was known as PrePak in Cookeville before it and other companies were acquired by a private equity firm in New York and rebranded to Aphena in 2010.

Aphena is on track to move into the newly renovated building in January, but production will begin there as soon as November.

“This new facility will make Aphena a top contender in the pharmaceutical contract service space, starting with over 14,000 pallets of cold chain storage capacity,” Allen said “Being able to off er turnkey packaging and distribution services for biologic products, plus expanding the current operations with newly innovated bottling and packaging lines, will continue to attract key pharmaceutical customers to the Middle Tennessee area.”

The Russell Stover plant opened in 1975 and employed about 900 people before 2006, when company offi cials announced plans to cease production.

“We’re in the pharmaceutical space,” Allen said. “It’s not about cheap labor. It’s about quality, compliance.

“Being in the healthcare space, Aphena does government contracts,” Allen said. “It’s a little bit recession proof, between our government contracts we support and the general vitamin sector.

“We’ve got a really good city work force. We are also centrally located in the U.S. It’s a great distribution point. We can reach 75 percent of U.S. population in a day’s drive.”

View PDF of news article

< Back to News