Article by Rhett Morgan for the Tulsa World
Milo’s Tea Company is sweetening its local manufacturing presence.
The Alabama-based maker of all-natural, fresh-brewed teas and lemonade is sinking $20 million into an expansion of a Tulsa County plant it built in 2020, a move that will create about 50 new jobs this year, Whitney Wright, Milo’s director of communications, said in an email.
The money will add about 3,100 square feet of production space to its existing 105,000-square-foot facility at Cherokee Extension Industrial Park, north of Tulsa and west of Owasso, company officials said. The expansion will support two new lines that will triple Milo’s gallon-making capacity and are expected to be operational this summer.
The upgrade also will include 118 more parking spaces and a second entrance onto 76th Street North.
“Milo’s Tea Company has been a great corporate partner since announcing its expansion to Tulsa in May 2019,” Arthur Jackson, senior vice president of economic development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “We’re grateful Milo’s has found success in northeast Oklahoma and is further investing in our workforce and the community.
“This expansion is another example of how Tulsa’s Future, the Chamber-led regional economic development partnership, works to attract new companies that will have long-term impacts on the region.”
Increased demand sparked Milo’s desire to bulk up operations, Wright said.
Its sales grew 57.6% in a recent four-week period, according to a Jan. 29 report from Nielsen, a New York-based analytics company. During that same four-week span, growth overall in the in the refrigerated tea category jumped 11.9%.
“Over the past several years, Tulsa has been ranked as having the best water quality in the region, which I’m told is one of the main reasons Milo’s Tea decided to come to our area,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement. “I’m excited that Milo’s is expanding and want to thank our team at the city for ensuring Milo’s can deliver a world-class product with world-class water quality service.”
Milo’s started in 1946 as a Birmingham hamburger joint headed by current CEO Tricia Wallwork’s grandparents, Milo and Beatrice Carlton, who would serve customers tea to wash down their meals. The family cashed in on the popularity of their tea by placing the refrigerated beverages in grocery stores in 1989, selling what had become a chain of restaurants in 2002 and concentrating on Milo’s Tea exclusively.
The company’s Oklahoma facility was its first out-of-state expansion. Milo’s campus sits on 20 acres that are just east of Macy’s Fulfillment Center, which opened in 2015.