AUGUSTA — Construction is expected to start in September on a new freezer facility at Performance Foodservice on Dalton Road.

The $15 million expansion, recently approved by the Augusta Planning Board, is expected to serve the company’s expanding food distribution business in northern New England.

“The need for the expansion at this location has been driven by increased business and continued growth by new and existing businesses,” company spokesman Joe Vagi said from the corporate headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. “We’ve been very successful at landing new customers and growing existing customers.”

The company services schools, correctional facilities, hospitals and senior living communities as well as independent restaurants.

Currently, the company has three sections in its distribution center: one for dry goods, a cooler for produce and a freezer section. The construction project is expected to add 50,000 square feet of freezer space.

Plans call for building the new facility to the north of the existing building on the Dalton Road site. That area has been developed as a parking lot. In addition to the new freezer facility, company officials are planning a new, 6-acre parking lot that will be able to accommodate 100 tractor-trailers, Vagi said.

The project is expected to lead to additional hiring of both warehouse staff and drivers, he said, assuming that growth continues.

In filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company points to a rebound in consumer spending, specifically on eating out, following the end of the 2008 recession, the result of increased employment and the shift in family size as drivers of its success. The company is the third largest food distributor by revenue in the country, following Sysco and U.S. Foods.

By investing in this expansion, Ross Cunningham, president and CEO of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the company is putting money into the local economy.

“By choosing to make this investment locally, they are supporting their employees and they are adding construction jobs, which puts money back into our economy,” he said. “We’re thrilled they continue to do business in Augusta.”

Performance Foodservice’s roots reach back five decades in Augusta.

The Joseph Kirschner Company created a division in 1963 to sell its meats to restaurants and drive-ins in the area, adding condiments and other items to bolster that business. Before moving to Dalton Road in the mid-1970s, the company was located on Water Street. In 1982, according to the company’s history, Allen Ryan bought Kirschner Food Corporation and changed the name to NorthCenter Foodservice. Fifteen years later, the company bought the assets of Associated Grocers of New England’s food service division. In 1999, the company merged with Performance Food Group and became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Richmond, Virginia-based company, which has distribution centers in the eastern and southern United States. After a 2008 merger with Roma, a distributor of Italian food and pizza, the company became Performance Foodservice.

Even though the company is adding 50,000 square feet of freezer space, Vagi said the company’s energy demand is expected to remain at the same level, thanks to new, more efficient equipment.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

jlowell@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @JLowellKJ