Raber Packing Company president Buddy Courdt announced this week plans to rebuild his family business after a fire destroyed the business in November 2018. The new facility, which is projected to cost $8 million dollars, will be rebuilt in West Peoria, Illinois.
On November 8, 2018, the smokehouses unknowingly sparked a fire igniting the roof of Raber Packing Company – Courdt’s family business since 1954. The four-alarm blaze, which used more than 1.4 million gallons of water, destroyed the packinghouse and damaged other parts of the business.
“After the fire, we had some tough decisions to make,” Courdt said. “Do we rebuild, or take the insurance settlement and move on to something new? We’ve owned Raber’s for more than 60 years, so we definitely wanted to rebuild if we could and that’s why we started looking for a new location.”
Despite finding several available locations, nothing suited Raber Packing Company’s needs.
“I looked at several properties, but I also know our business and the goals we have for the future,” Courdt said. “That’s why we decided to build an entirely new facility. The cost far outweighs the insurance settlement, but it will be worth it in the end to have a new place for Raber’s, and a new home for our employees, friends and customers.”
A true family affair, the new facility was designed by Courdt and his youngest brother, Brad Courdt, an industrial design engineer.
The new, specially-designed 40,000-50,000 square foot processing facility will house an expanded retail area, a larger slaughter floor, processing area and office space. The new design also will provide for the most efficient flow-through from slaughter to counter as well as incorporating new, cost-effective methods.
“We’re extremely excited about the new ways we’ll be able to provide customers with local meats,” Courdt said. “It would be hard to walk into another business in the Midwest and get the variety and quality we will have at the new Raber Packing Company.”
The new state-of-the-art design also will incorporate some of Raber’s most time-honored traditions. The new facility will host a chilled Steak ‘N Chop shop where kids still will be able to get a free cold hotdog and feature new additions, including engaging meat education play station for kids, as well as a deli where staff will be able to provide more ready-to-eat entrees.
Hein Construction expects to break ground this month, with an estimated completion date in November 2019, just in time for your Raber’s smoked turkey and ham for Thanksgiving. Raber Packing Company expects to employ 40 full time union employees.