New business not coming to Lawrenceville

Kass USA, LLC will not be operating at 409 West 5th Avenue, the former Southern States building. The owners blamed the impact of COVID-19 as the reason. (Sylvia Allen/Brunswick Times-Gazette)

LAWRENCEVILLE – Kass USA, LLC notified the Town of Lawrenceville, Brunswick County, the Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority and the Southside Planning District Commission that the company has succumbed to the relentless pressure of COVID-19 and will not open the new business at 409 West 5th Avenue, the former Southern States building.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Thursday, June 27, 2019 to welcome Ajay and Kareena Sujanami to the area.

Kass USA, LLC was discussed at the Lawrenceville Town Council meeting and the Brunswick County IDA Board of Directors meeting both held electronically on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

According to published reports, Kass Foods focuses on the manufacturing of healthy snack products in various segments including organic, children, adult, as well as sweet and savory. Their product portfolio will consist of several European style snacks customized to the American palette. With robust R&D tie-ups with Universities in Germany and US, Kass has various innovative products.

An email sent by Ajay to Sangi Cooper with the Southside District Planning Commission dated April 29, 2020 explained the impact COVID-19 has had on the company. “With the stay-at-home orders around much of the country and travel restrictions, it has become impossible to match the timeline we were planning for last month. As a start-up we are losing resources quickly and with the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought on us there seems to be no way forward for Kass. We have worked through the hardship a start-up would have to face and were prepared for more but the coronavirus has created so much uncertainty that it is difficult to predict when we could get a production scale up company and engineers from out of the country to travel and work again on our production scale up. Given the situation, we are bowing down to the COVID-19 crisis and have decided to close down the activities of Kass.

“We are grateful to all of you and your organizations. Thank you for letting us be a part of your community and your endless support and love. We are forever grateful.

“We would like to end this amicably and will settle the outstanding amount with Dominion and assist in transferring the electric power back to the town. Additionally, if permitted, we will clean the facility. We plan to finish these by May 25th.

“We will also reach out to Lake Country Development Corporation separately on the loan.”

On April 17, 2020 W. Curtis Outten, Jr., Town Attorney, wrote to Sujanami notifying him that unless the electrical power was restored to the Kass location in Lawrenceville, Virginia within 10 days of receipt of the letter and business has commenced within 30 days of receipt of the letter in the business known as Kass USA, LLC, the Town of Lawrenceville will take all action that is available to it to terminate the lease and to recover all damages caused by failure to proceed with the business of Kass USA, LLC. Copies of the letter were sent to Scott Martin, Mayor; Everette Gibson, Interim Town Manager; Deborah Gosney, Executive Director, Southside PDC and Ashleigh Zincone, Senior Planning, Southside PDC.