Valspar Bakes Quality Into The Mix at World's Largest Pita Bread Plant

Olympia Food Industries transformed vacant factory with help from Valspar.

Olympia Food Industries, a manufacturer of specialty food items for distribution to restaurants and supermarkets, recently transformed a vacant factory on Chicago's Southside into the world's largest pita bread manufacturing facility. Flooring would prove to be a major challenge. Valspar and Concare, Inc., a concrete floor repair and restoration contractor in Melrose Park, Illinois, stepped up to get the job done right.

Dubbed the "Pita Pan" building by Olympia Food Industries owners Andre and Kostas Papantoniou, the 60,000-square-foot building underwent a total renovation from floor to ceiling. Olympia invested more than $4.5 million in upgrades and construction, along with another $15 million for the state-of-the-art equipment necessary for manufacturing pita bread, flat bread and cheese-filled breadsticks.

General contractor Coral Enterprises Inc. hired Bill Wallrich of JWW Builders & Consultants to oversee the renovation. Wallrich worked closely with Concare, Inc. on one of the toughest tasks the renovation crew faced: installing a flooring system strong enough to withstand sweltering hot baking ovens, near 100% humidity, steam cleaners applying 220°F heat, holding freezers that dipped below -10°F, and a spiral freezer kept at -40° F in the ultra-sanitary food processing areas.

According to Wallrich, standard epoxy flooring was out of the question because it does not effectively control contaminants commonly found in food plants. Without control measures, contaminants such as fungi and mildew will degrade concrete surfaces over time and threaten hygienic compliance.

Valspar Has It Covered
Concare, Inc. recommended a combination of Valspar flooring products, including the installation of 12,000 square feet of Flowfresh RT for the mixing, proofing, preparation and cooking areas subject to USDA sanitary requirements. Flowfresh floors, which utilize proven Flowcrete technology, currently cover millions of square feet in the most demanding production facilities around the world. Flowfresh RT, a non-slip, heavy-duty rake and trowel system, includes built-in high performance antimicrobial additive that inhibits the growth of bacterial odors and guards the floor against degradation from microorganisms.

"The antimicrobial agents in Flowfresh are incorporated throughout the coating, so if it's scratched or worn, the bacteria-fighting protection is not compromised," noted Jeff Fleming, Valspar Flooring Technical Sales Representative. "In addition, because it has the same coefficient of expansion as concrete, Flowfresh withstands extreme thermal shock, allowing it to tolerate sudden temperature changes without cracking or delaminating from the concrete surface."

In addition, Concare applied Valspar Federal Formula clear hardener on the concrete floors inside the silo room and two freezers. Valspar EpoRok resurfacer was applied on the damaged floors of the packaging and loading docks, and Valspar EC-6, a self-leveling 1/8-inch slurry epoxy coating, was used in non-production rooms, such as bathrooms and the lunch area. Sedona Red decorative quartz finish was broadcast into some quantities of the EC-6 for application in the toolroom, boiler and corridor. To meet Olympia's requirements for unique colors, Valspar mixed a blue batch of Flowfresh and, in the dock area, provided EpoRok pigmented in Colonial Blue.

"After some fine-tuning on the floors, the Olympia Foods plant is now up and running, producing the best pita bread available," said Valpar's Fleming. "Valspar and Concare faced some unusual flooring challenges on this job but overcame them with the right combination of excellent flooring products and highly skilled installers."