Michael Locke, vice president of manufacturing of Herbalife, leads a group of elected officials on a tour through Herbalife's facility in Winston-Salem. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and Herbalife COO Rich Goudis listen in the background.

Herbalife Unveils $100M Plant in Winston-Salem

Herbalife Ltd. on Friday unveiled its more than $100 million “innovation and manufacturing” facility in Winston-Salem and trumpeted plans to have more than 500 workers in place there by the end of the year.

Along with members of various news outlets, local elected officials including state Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, and Kernersville Mayor Dawn Morgan gathered for the grand opening and labyrinthine tour of the plant at 3200 Temple School Road. The company has converted the more than 800,000-square-foot facility from what was once the home of Dell Inc.

But the Herbalife (NYSE: HLF) tour didn’t start until all attendees buttoned up in long white coats, tucked their manes into hair nets and pulled blue booties over their flat shoes — no heels or jewelry allowed.

It was time to get some exercise for the 1-mile loop around the plant that officials say is the equivalent of 200 basketball courts or 16 football fields.

The facility makes a variety of nutritional products, including its flagship Formula 1 nutritional shake mix, herbal aloe concentrate and an herbal tea concentrate. It’s estimated to produce 150 million units per year, with the products to be exported to more than 50 countries.

The smell of product ingredients wafted through the air as Herbalife officials led attendees through the warehouse, a powder manufacturing area and operations ranging from blending and automated labeling to packaging.

“Most powder plants will take anywhere from two blends an hour and that’s about the most they can do,” said Mike Locke, Herbalife vice president of manufacturing. “We can do up to five blends, so we’re a high-efficiency facility.”

The facility tour was so extensive that it was more than a hour before anyone peeled off their hair nets. And future tours of Herbalife could be even longer if 25 percent of the facility’s floor plan that is currently unassigned becomes the site of additional production space. Locke said that space could be in use by 2017.

In the meantime, Herbalife expects to employ more than 500 at the facility by year’s end, essentially making good on $10 million of incentives approved by local and state officials. The company currently has 350 workers at the facility.