Simmons Prepared Foods is beginning to ramp up operations as scheduled at its new $300 million Benton County, Ark., poultry production facility. Production recently began on a small scale at the facility and will steadily increase to reach the first phase of full production in January 2020, the company said.
“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,” Simmons Foods chief operating officer David Jackson said.
The 315,000 sq. ft. facility is in the midst of a staged transition and a gradual ramp-up of production in a brand new environment, Jackson said. “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 Simmons's 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,” Jackson said. “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, Ark. Prospective team members can apply, interview and, in some cases, complete the hiring process in a single visit.
The company said 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 the spring of 2020.