By Jack Gurner
OAKLAND – Employees began training this week at the new Windsor Foods plant and start-up is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 17.
Windsor’s executive management team made the announcement to state and local officials during a gathering at the plant last week on the western edge of Yalobusha County.
The company will have 130-plus employees on-site during the first two weeks of operations, according Greg Geib, Windsor’s CEO. There were over 1100 job applicants which company officials described as an “outstanding response.”
Initially there will be two manufacturing lines for Mexican snacks and hand held products. Another line for Asian foods will be added in the near future. “We’re already talking about phase two,” Geib told the Herald.
The company has invested around $15 million in the Oakland facility. The state provided $700,000 through a Community Development Block Grant and Yalobusha County matched the grant funds with nearly $70,000, mostly in the form of in-kind work at the site.
During his presentation to the local and state officials, Geib explained the company’s history and position in the foodservice market. He said that Windsor Frozen Foods was founded in January 1996 from an acquisition of frozen food companies formerly owned by the Keebler Company.
Lynn Hall, senior vice-president for sales, marketing, and supply chain, added that Windsor has FDA-approved manufacturing facilities that provide products to foodservice, warehouse club, industrial and private-label retail customers across the United States.
Hall was followed by Steve Charles, vice-president of western operations, who was on-site during the process of taking the 140,000-foot plant from a raw beef processing plant to a frozen food plant.
He described how the process configuration and food safety requirements differ between a raw beef operation to a “ready to eat” operation. Charles also detailed the process of streamlining the facility for Windsor operations and adding the 10,000 square-foot addition to the east side of the plant.
Charles pointed out the positives that attracted Windsor to the Oakland facility. He said that the plant size was ideal for their initial needs and for future expansion. And, the relatively new construction was designed to USDA guidelines.
He added that Oakland was a good location for product distribution and there was already outstanding facility infrastructure including water and the waste water treatment facilities; electrical substation; natural gas; and a fully intact ammonia system for freezing and cooling.
Charles finished the presentation by introducing the Oakland Management Team: Tony Rocz, plant manager; Andrew Medina, production manager; David Lyon, maintenance/engineering manager; Brian Smith, plant controller; Karen Ramirez, logistics manager; Dennis McElroy, warehouse manager; Terry McMinn, human resource manager; and Pat Seitz, quality assurance manager.
The visiting officials were taken on a tour of the Oakland facility and then given a taste of some of the Windsor appetizers.
With the addition of the Oakland facility, Windsor currently operates 10 plants in the United States.