ST. HENRY, Ohio — Gold-plated scissors in hand, company executives and area dignitaries cut the ribbon to officially open Cooper Farms’ new distribution center Thursday morning.
The new center, located at the Cooper Farms processing plant in St. Henry, totals 90,000 square feet and will provide 15 additional jobs to the company’s workforce.
“This new distribution center is an exciting step for all of us at Cooper Farms,” said Gary Cooper, chief operating officer. “We previously outsourced our cold storage, but the time was now right for us to do this ourselves, onsite.”
The distribution center provides the company with both refrigerated and frozen storage. It features 14 truck docks, administrative and distribution offices, employee locker rooms and dining areas, and a food safety and quality lab.
Cooper Farms Quality Manager Doris Siefring said she and her team were engaged with the architects in helping to design the lab. The former lab space she described as “a closet.”
“We’re growing and expanding and over the last few years our space has just started to not be enough,” she said. “We doubled the square footage of our existing lab. If we wanted the newest and greatest technology, we had to increase our space.”
“I’m very excited about it,” she added. “This is by and far a big improvement for us.”
The cooler room has space for approximately 2,800 pallets, which will hold ready-to-eat products from the Cooked Meats plant in Van Wert. The pallets will hold an estimated 1,400 pounds per skid, for a total of 3.9 million pounds of ready-to-eat products.
The freezer side of the center can house approximately 4,500 pallets of frozen, value-added products such as burgers, roasts and commodity products produced at the St. Henry plant, equaling about 5.4 million pounds.
Tom Wisvari, director of processing at Cooper Farms, said all areas of the distribution center should be fully operational by April.
“We want to be a totally integrated company,” he said. “Breeding, hatching, growing, feed production, processing — we want to be ‘farm to fork.’ Before, we were not in charge of distribution, so we built this distribution center because we want to be in control of all of our business. We also wanted to build some office space for growth.”
Construction of the project was led by the Tippman Group of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Construction of the center utilized many local contractors.
Cooper Farms was founded in 1938 by Virgil and Virginia Cooper and is still family-owned today. The company employs more than 2,000 people at its various divisions. It produces a wide variety of food products, including turkey, chicken, eggs, pork and grains.
For more information on Cooper Farms, visit the company’s website at www.cooperfarms.com.
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