The Simmons Prepared Foods poultry production facility in Benton County, Arkansas, is now in operation, and production is beginning to ramp up as scheduled.
Production began on a small scale at the new $300 million plant during the week of September 30 and will steadily increase to reach the first phase of full production in January 2020.
“These last few weeks have been a critical phase in preparing for the startup of operations here at Benton County. There has been a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, but there is still work to do,” said David Jackson, chief operating officer, Simmons Foods.
“We’re in the midst of a staged transition and a gradual ramp up of production in a brand new environment. Every piece of equipment and each process is being assessed to ensure the highest safety and product quality. This is important work and we’re pleased to be on track with the project timeline.”
Approximately 900 team members are transitioning to the new facility from the Simmons poultry production plant in Decatur.
The company expects to increase staffing at the plant to 1,200 team members by January 2020, with the potential to reach up to 2,300 team members in 2022.
“One of the things we’re most proud of with this facility is the work environment it provides for our team members. The design, layout and finishes are the result of an intentional effort to make this a place where people are proud to come to work. This is a world-class facility.”
To streamline the process for building its team in the region, Simmons opened a hiring center last year in Siloam Springs.
Prospective team members can apply, interview, and in some cases, complete the hiring process in a single visit.
Exterior finish work, tree planting and landscaping at the Benton County facility will continue over the next few months. An opening celebration event is in the planning for spring 2020.
Simmons’ Benton County production facility is a 315,000 square-foot facility centrally located on an 870-acre site along Highway 59 between Gentry and Decatur, Arkansas. The general contractor for the project is C.R. Crawford Construction.
The project has logged over one million safe work hours to date.
Simmons Prepared Foods ranks in the top 20 poultry producers in the United States, Simmons Pet Food is the largest supplier of store brand wet pet food in North America, and Simmons Feed Ingredients boasts an innovative line of proprietary animal nutrition products. With over 7,000 team members, Simmons Foods and its affiliates serve customers in all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world.