WINCHESTER – When Poultry TFC announced in December that it would open a turkey processing plant in the city’s north end, the keyboard warriors took to social media to complain about the noxious smells and thankless jobs they said would come with the installation.
Darrin Froemming, co-owner and CEO of the Ashby, Minn.-based company, wants Winchester to know these claims are false.
“I think a lot of the community associates turkey processing with the slaughter, the smells, the mess, the live birds, the feathers, the low wages, all of those things,” Froemming said Friday then. that he was taking a break from renovating TFC Poultry’s future home, the former Sunshine’s Pride. Dairy Cheese Processing Plant at 801 N. Kent St. “We’re in a different business model and doing different things. We’re not a stereotypical poultry operation.”
Froemming stressed that TFC will not be logging at the site. Instead, multiple truckloads of chilled turkey legs will be shipped daily from vendors who handle the slaughter, so there will be no odors or mess in the processing facility. Winchester.
“Since all of our products come in fresh and come out fresh, it’s no different to having raw turkey in your refrigerator,” Froemming said. “It’s clean work compared to slaughterhouses.”
Once the thighs arrive, TFC will remove the bones, fat and cartilage, then ship the processed and chilled meat to other manufacturers for use in things like turkey hot dogs, turkey ham, meat turkey taco, turkey bacon and more. Froemming said TFC will also help suppliers who are experiencing employee shortages by deboning turkey meat on their behalf.
“We are the only third-party turkey deboner in the United States,” he said.
When it comes to employees, TFC’s family-oriented corporate culture is more akin to that of Silicon Valley than a poultry processing plant.
“We really focus on how to make someone’s day better,” Froemming said. “We’re tackling traditional things like ergonomics, like everyone else does, but giving it a luxurious feel.”
For example, each station in the production line will include a device for listening to personalized music or sporting events while working, the design of employee bathrooms will be more like a hotel than a hotel. a factory, and there will be windows in the production area so workers don’t feel like they’re trapped in a dark, dingy building.
Rest rooms will also be unique for a poultry processing plant. Rather than just including vending machines, chairs and tables, TFC will also provide video games, pool tables and other equipment to boost employee morale.
“We try to have fun doing what we do,” Froemming said.
Starting hourly wages for production employees have not been finalized, he said, “but we are looking at teenagers through their mid-teens.” The plant will also offer higher-paying supervisory positions and opportunities for advancement, as well as a benefits package for all workers that includes 75% coverage of insurance costs for employees and their dependents. charged.
“Our mindset is that we attract with money but retain with culture,” Froemming said. “If someone doesn’t like what they do, especially these days, a paycheck isn’t worth it.”
TFC is taking over a facility designed for cheese processing that has been vacant since Sunshine’s Pride Daily closed in December 2011, so major renovations are needed.
“We place a very high priority on technology and automation,” said Froemming.
The changes will start with the building’s main entrance on North Kent Street, which he said is getting “a really good facelift”. To the south of the renovated entrance will be a new part of the factory.
Inside, the establishment is being emptied. The old ammonia refrigeration systems have been removed and will be replaced with more environmentally friendly units. Old walls and floors were removed and crushed, with pulverized concrete and brick spread across the site to provide a foundation for the newly constructed parts of the factory. On the wall is a map where Froemming and the crew members of Harman Construction Inc. in Harrisonburg have X-marked rooms that have already been razed to make way for TFC amenities.
“I think there’s about 21,000 square feet or so that we’ve outdated overall,” Froemming said. “Then we add about 24,000 square feet in total, which really opens it up.”
Froemming said supply chain issues have delayed the arrival of new equipment needed for the turkey processing operation, but thanks to a simultaneous refurbishment at TFC’s main plant in Ashby, the machinery there were once in use can be shipped to Winchester and installed in time for the possibility of starting limited operations on August 1.
“In the first quarter of next year, we will begin full operations,” Froemming said.
During the limited operating period, he said TFC plans to hire 60 people for the new plant in Winchester. When full operations begin next year, that number will begin to climb until it eventually reaches 100.
Froemming said he and his brother, TFC co-owner Trent Froemming, were happy to be at Winchester.
“It’s a good decision,” he said, noting that TFC has already purchased a home in the city where the Froemmings and other staff can stay when they visit the Minnesota headquarters. “We’ve met a lot of neighbors…and we have a lot of neighbors we’ll do business with, from gas-powered forklifts to pallet trucks to dumpsters to restaurants.”
For more information on TFC Poultry, visit tfcpoultry.com.