HomeNewsChocaholic heaven… our very own chocolate factory in The Business Village…

Chocaholic heaven… our very own chocolate factory in The Business Village…

The JJA Snack manufacturing facility opens at The Business Village in the New Year and school parties, Scouts, Guides and other youth groups are invited to come along and manufacture their own chocolate bars – and then eat them!

The new hands-on STEM educational venture is being launched by Jamie Ashpole, who is director of established engineering company, JJA Pack, based in Rotherham. Jamie and his team design, build, install and maintain machinery for chocolate factories all over the world and count the best-known brands amongst their clients.

Their new JJA Snack chocolate production line aims to give young people a taste of manufacturing too. Educational packages will lead them through the entire production process for chocolate, from raw cocoa bean to finished bar.

“I want to give youngsters an insight into what manufacturing involves, through a fun, hands-on opportunity to design and make their own chocolate bar. I love what I do, and I really would like more young people to think about a career in engineering. When I travel to chocolate factories all over the world, I’m struck by how it is mostly older people working in them. I’d really like to see that change.”

Jamie Ashpole

Jamie has partnered with Siemens to use their Insights Cloud Software on the project, so children will be able use the latest smart technology to track the production process, using data capture, AI machine controls and digital dashboards.

“Engineering has been transformed by smart control systems in recent years allowing us to remotely monitor activity, detect problems and fix them before costly breakdowns. It’s not just nuts and bolts anymore. Everything has got more high-tech and opened up more scope for creativity too. To my mind, I work in the coolest industry on the planet. It’s all about chocolate and robots – what’s not to like!”

Jamie Ashpole

Jamie has invested more than £70,000 in kitting out and customising his chocolate factory for young people and is creating two new jobs in 2024. Although Jamie was not directly inspired by the Willy Wonka movie, he shares the famous factory owner’s passion for chocolate production.

“It’s funny launching our chocolate factory just when a new Wonka film is in cinemas but this wasn’t planned, we’re not that organised! However, if we can attract more kids to take a closer look at engineering through chocolate, that’s my dream come true.”

Jamie, who lives in Barnsley, set up his new enterprise at The Business Village after entering the ‘Barnsley Means Business’ competition earlier this year. The prize was one year’s subsidised rent for a new tenant and his unique proposal and robust business plan secured him this deal on a 950 sq ft workspace.

“We were delighted to receive Jamie’s application to build his chocolate factory in one of our units at The Business Village; and only too happy to support him as he establishes this new community venture. The Business Village exists to support innovation, job creation and economic growth; and we’re very keen on new technology and investment in learning too so it’s a great fit. We welcome Jamie to our business community and look forward to seeing budding engineers get hands-on in his chocolate factory.”

Business Village Chief Executive Adrian Waite.

JJA Snack will use the line to produce its own milk, dark and white chocolate bars – Insight, Inspire and Innovation. The Business Village has ordered 700 bespoke bars as gifts for tenants and partners, while contracts have been secured to supply branded bars for sports teams including Sheffield Steelers, Leeds Knights and Swindon Wildcats. Here’s a sneak peak!

Stay tuned for more exciting developments into the new year!