A great place to build a business and raise a family

Calvin Virgilio, Director of Operations, The Granola Factory

Calvin Virgilio grew up in a bed-and-breakfast his parents operated in Bethlehem. His mother began making granola for the visitors, and it quickly became a staple at the breakfast table, with guests enjoying it so much that they felt it should be sold in stores.

It wasn’t long before that came to pass. In 2006, the Virgilios turned it into a proper business, installing a commercial kitchen in the basement of the bed-and-breakfast and packaging it for local stores.

Today, The Granola Factory products are sold in more than 350 stores from Massachusetts to Virginia, including multiple Wegmans, Giant and Whole Foods Market locations, and have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Saveur magazine.

“The community here is Lehigh Valley is great, it’s a good area to be in,” Calvin said. “People downtown I think are receptive to the product. They love the smell. Can’t beat that. Everybody has really appreciated the fact that we’re here.”

Calvin left the region to study at the University of Richmond before originally starting a career as an account manager for a software company. He soon found it wasn’t the industry for him, and he was drawn to come back to the Lehigh Valley and get into the family business.

Upon returning, Calvin found the region had grown and developed during his time away, with new businesses cropping up and downtown neighborhoods growing in Lehigh Valley’s cities. He found it to be a place of great opportunity.

“I think people are starting to see that in this area,” Calvin said. “Our business has thrived here. I think the location’s great. From a food supply chain standpoint, you’re close to so many different avenues of getting product in here.”

He also found Lehigh Valley a great place to raise a family. Calvin has three children, and his work at The Granola Factory allows him plenty of time to enjoy the region’s trails, farmers markets, and family entertainment destinations.

“I think that there’s definitely a good mix of lifestyle and there’s so many different things you can do with your free time, as well as finding opportunities in your career,” he said.

The Granola Factory specializes in making granola with real food ingredients, such as rolled, oats, honey, real dairy butter and roasted pecans. Products include granola, cereal, and Bethlehem Bars, including a new flavor layered with raspberry jam, white chocolate and almonds.

Calvin believes hiring is the most critical part of the business, and that The Granola Factory has been able to assemble a great team in Lehigh Valley. The many excellent higher education institutions and technical schools in the region provide an excellent workforce for companies to draw from.

“With the colleges in the area, for any company looking to build a foundation and find a workforce, you’d definitely have a diverse set of people that you can pull from for the different departments of a business..”