Gertrude Hawk’s nos­tal­gic fu­ture home pays trib­ute to the com­pany’s past

The Citizens' Voice - - Local / Region / State - BY BORYS KRAWCZENIUK STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: bkrawcze­niuk@timessham­rock. com; 570-348-9147 @Bo­rysBlogTT

THROOP — The new build­ing that will house Gertrude Hawk Choco­lates’ of­fices looks more than a smidgen dif­fer­ent than most mod­ern lo­cal of­fice build­ings.

Re­mem­ber­ing the last time the com­pany moved its op­er­a­tions 29 years ago, com­pany co-owner David Hawk wanted a new of­fice build­ing with more flair — some­thing that re­flects Gertrude Hawk’s his­tory and says Scran­ton “in a good way.”

The new, 12,000-square-foot of­fice build­ing, lo­cated near their ex­ist­ing re­tail store in the Key­stone In­dus­trial Park, will re­sem­ble an old fac­tory, but with an LED-pow­ered sign that tells ev­ery­one they have ar­rived where the Hawk fam­ily cooks up peanut but­ter Smidgens, co­conut clus­ters, Jor­dan crack­ers and its other choco­late treats. Gertrude Hawk started the com­pany in 1936, at the height of the Great De­pres­sion in her fam­ily’s home in Scran­ton’s Bunker Hill neigh­bor­hood.

David Hawk, now 66, wanted the new home of his grand­mother’s com­pany to touch her era.

“This is go­ing to be our home for years and years to come,” Hawk said. “We felt that it was im­por­tant to have an ap­pro­pri­ate build­ing. I think it says, to me, it’s Scran­ton ... It kind of gives the her­itage and we’re part of the her­itage.”

Re­flect­ing the com­pany’s and Scran­ton’s her­itage will cost about $7.6 mil­lion, Hawk said.

Gertrude Hawk has to move be­cause it sold its of­fice build­ing/man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in the Key­stone In­dus­trial Park as part of the sale of its in­gre­di­ents divi­sion to Switzer­land­based Barry Calle­baut, one of the world’s largest choco­late and co­coa pro­duc­ers. The deal closed in late Oc­to­ber.

Gertrude Hawk em­ploy­ees spent the fall mov­ing choco­late-mak­ing equip­ment across the street and up­hill into the com­pany’s 170,000-square-foot distri­bu­tion cen­ter. Grimm Con­struc­tion of Way­mart al­ready in­stalled the foun­da­tion for the new of­fice build­ing, which will cre­ate an ap­peal­ing front a bit up­hill from the mun­dane-look­ing plant.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing re­sumed in the distri­bu­tion cen­ter in time for the hol­i­day rush, though not without some stress, Hawk said.

“We have great em­ploy­ees and they all un­der­stood we were in a bind and they had to get out of here,” he said. “They all put their shoul­der to the wheel and it’s worked out beau­ti­fully.”

The new of­fice build­ing should open in June. About 275 peo­ple work for Gertrude Hawk, with about 240 in man­u­fac­tur­ing, Hawk said.

Gertrude Hawk opened its orig­i­nal man­u­fac­tur­ing plant on Drinker Street in Dun­more in 1962, but moved to the in­dus­trial park in 1989, Hawk said.

He said he re­mem­bers he and his late fa­ther, Elmer R. Hawk, never thought about in­clud­ing of­fices in the ex­ist­ing build­ing be­cause the Drinker Street plant just had a re­tail store­front.

“When we de­signed this, we just saw this as an in­dus­trial build­ing,” Hawk said from his of­fice in the ex­ist­ing plant. “The ar­chi­tects came back in and said, ‘You need to put a front in to make it look like an of­fice build­ing in this por­tion.’ ... We did it and we’ve been thrilled. And so the les­son was if we ever build again, we’re go­ing to make a nice-look­ing build­ing.”

Hawk said the com­pany out­grew its ex­ist­ing of­fice space years ago, reg­u­larly build­ing staff of­fices in va­cant space next to man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment.

“So now we’re go­ing to con­sol­i­date them back into a real of­fice,” he said. “We wanted it to look like an old in­dus­trial mill.”

That means real red bricks, or­na­men­tal con­crete and large win­dows form­ing the ex­te­rior.

Old in­dus­trial plants had large win­dows to let in nat­u­ral light and fresh air when heat from machin­ery built up un­bear­ably, said Richard Leonori, the ar­chi­tect at Hemm­ler & Ca­mayd Ar­chi­tects, who de­signed the new of­fice build­ing. The build­ing will en­hance the ap­pear­ance of the plant, which is “not su­per at­trac­tive,” he said.

“It really will screen most of that,” Leonori said.

The new, 82-feet-long LED sign nods to the sign over Ghi­rardelli Square, the San Fran­cisco bayfront re­tail cen­ter and former home of the Ghi­rardelli Choco­late Co., Leonori said.

“We are plan­ning to be able to pro­gram it so that the color can be changed to align to a sea­son or a hol­i­day,” Leonori said.

The con­sol­i­dated of­fices will house ad­min­is­tra­tive and sales staff from Gertrude Hawk and Drew’s All Nat­u­ral, a Ch­ester, Ver­mont com­pany the choco­latier ac­quired in 2010. Drew’s man­u­fac­tures or­ganic salad dress­ings and other condi­ments.

Hawk said Gertrude Hawk plans to ac­quire another com­pany sim­i­lar to Drew’s in the next year or two and per­haps move it here. The com­pany has not iden­ti­fied a po­ten­tial tar­get, he said.

Gertrude Hawk has about 50 re­tail stores in a 150-mile ra­dius of the lo­cal plant, Hawk said.

BUTCH COMEGYS / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Gertrude Hawk co-owner David Hawk holds an artis­tic ren­der­ing of the choco­latier’s new of­fice build­ing at its fu­ture lo­ca­tion in Throop.

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