At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Butterball’s seventh facility, Mike Bliss, VP of Operations for Butterball, discussed how aggressive the startup schedule was for the Raeford facility and how Butterball is on track to employ nearly 500 people there by the end of 2016.
“I would like to say thanks to all veterans in the room here today. We certainly appreciate what you all do for us. This great country and what we are is a lot due to what it is you do.
“As Joe mentioned, my name is Mike Bliss and I am Vice President of Operations. I not only oversee this plant and Frank and what he does each and every day which can be a challenge, I also have plants in Montgomery, Ill. as well as the Mount Olive facility, which is just up the road about two hours from here and happens to be the largest turkey plant in the world as Joe mentioned. Today we are processing somewhere near 60,000 turkeys a day. That’s a lot of turkeys to go through one facility.
“We are thrilled to be here in the community of Raeford. We certainly thank everyone for the support we have been shown. In the time that we have been here, there is no doubt in our mind that we made the right choice in deciding to come to Raeford, N.C. to start our next turkey processing plant.
“The plant put together a pretty aggressive schedule in terms of startup. As Joe mentioned, the acquisition took place in February and we had a May 4 deadline to start up. It wasn’t a lot of time, because we had planned significant improvements for the facility, and you will see a lot of those improvements today as your walk through facility. As you’ve heard earlier from Joe, Frank and the entire Butterball team did an outstanding job, and this plant started on the day it said it would start, which was May 4, and hasn’t missed any of its deadlines to date, which is just amazing.
“I’ve been in the business since 1977, and I’ve been involved in a lot of processing and a lot of startups, and this has been one of the best if not the best startup that I have seen of a facility. Of course, that credit goes to Frank and the entire Butterball family and all of you in the Raeford community, because had it not been for everyone working together, that would not have happened, so thank you
“In addition to on-time startup and numerous startups along the way and startups soon to come, which it seems like there is one after another, to date we have employed close to 225 associates here at the Raeford plant. I think when we had our first announcements a time back, I think we talked about employing somewhere 500 to 600 associates at some point in time, so we will finish this year at about 225 [associates], which is actually a few more than we had originally thought. We have plans right now to add in 2016 another 250 jobs, which will push us right near that 500 mark by the end of 2016. So again, the growth has just been phenomenal and the success here at this plant has been something that doesn’t happen very often in this industry as there are many challenges that we face to get a plant up and going.
“We’d like to thank the city, county and all the private businesses as well for helping us have such a great startup here in Raeford and for making all of us feel at home here in Raeford, N.C. Again, it’s just been a great experience for me individually and for everyone involved in the experience.”