Ultra Health founder Duke Rodriguez discusses the company’s recent purchase of the former Western Baking Corp. building in Alamogordo. The company expects the facility to process up to 150,000 pounds of cannabis per year for New Mexico’s recreational market. (Stephen Hamway/Journal)
If the facility lives up to Rodriguez’s expectations, it could process well over 100,000 pounds of cannabis per year, which Rodriguez said equates to nearly half the projected need for New Mexico’s recreational market. When it’s fully operational, Rodriguez said he believes the space could employ between 200 and 300 people.
“This is what we have to do if we’re going to produce the volume we want … – if we are actually going to become a national cannabis company,” Rodriguez said.
Laurie Anderson, director of the Otero County Economic Development Council, said the building was originally built as a factory for National Presto Industries Inc., which produced kitchen gadgets ranging from fry cookers to skillets.
After the company moved its operations overseas, Anderson said a few different bakery operators inhabited the space. While the building has been vacant for around a half-decade, wafts of flour, chocolate and other scents associated with a commercial bakery still remain in the air.
Rodriguez said having access to a food-grade commercial space will help Ultra Health keep its flower and finished products like edibles free from contamination, and could potentially motivate competitors to find similar high-quality buildings.
“When it comes to cannabis companies, we haven’t had this kind of facility even on a small scale,” Rodriguez said.
He added that the building has been well-maintained, which gives the company a key advantage in gearing up for recreational operations. Rodriguez expects the building to be operational by April.
The interior space is bifurcated into different massive rooms, including a loading dock, a commercial refrigerator and large open warehouse spaces.
Rodriguez acknowledged that Ultra Health is still figuring out what to do with different parts of the building, but said the company sees it as a hub for growing, processing and packaging cannabis for the southern half of New Mexico. He also said the company has space at the facility to partner with between four and six large cannabis companies.
“They’ll be able to cultivate here, they’ll be able to produce here, they’ll be able to have their products stored, warehoused, packaged, the whole thing,” Rodriguez said.
Anderson said the project has been broadly supported by leaders in Otero County, based on the long-term impacts of the new jobs.
“We definitely believe that that is going to have a big impact with that job creation,” she said.
Manufacturing space inside Ultra Health’s new facility in Alamogordo. The former Western Baking Corp. facility is one of the largest buildings of its kind in the state, and is a key piece of Ultra Health’s expansion into the recreational cannabis market. (Stephen Hamway/Journal)