Next round of Peco hiring nears

Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

The long-awaited second phase of hiring for the new Peco Foods freezer and distribution center is about to begin.

Starting next week, company officials will start contacting about 25 people about coming in for interviews between April 1 and April 12.

The 25 were among those picked by the company following a career fair last September that attracted almost 300 job seekers.

Following the interviews, candidates should receive offer letters between April 22 and April 26, according to Plant Manager Jordan Townsend. The potential employees will have about two weeks to accept and those who do will start work the week of May 20 and undergo training in late May and early June, according to a schedule Townsend is following.

“We’ve been in contact with these 25 or so people. We’ll be trying to line them up for second interviews. If some aren’t interested now, we’ve got others on the list from the job fair last year and some who have applied since then,” Townsend explained.

“The idea is to bring them in, let them see the plant, understand the operation, meet the managers, and see where they’ll be working and whether it’s something they still want to do,” he added.

The company already has 25 administrative and maintenance positions filled. In fact, the maintenance crews have been working for weeks helping with an almost-complete refurbishing of the 20-year-old, 190,000-square-foot former Americold operation. The administrative staff have been added in more recent weeks.

The 20 hires in the next six weeks will be in the warehouse and freezer operation.

“We’ve still got to get the new evaporators in and installed. That should be the first of May hopefully. That should coincide with getting these positions filled and starting training. I hope we’re ready to rock and roll by the end of May,” Townsend said.

“It’ll be exciting when that first truck comes in. We’ll all be out there unloading,” he quipped.

The schedule is as much as six months behind what the company originally had hoped. But the delay hasn’t harmed plans.

And it’ll make it that much more special for new workers, who will enter a plant that despite being 20 years old, looks new with bright colors and sleek floors and walls making the operation look like anything but a distribution center.

“Remember, Peco doesn’t have its own distribution center. This will be a bonus to be able to keep our own product and ship it without having to rely on using outside vendors,” Townsend said of the Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Peco, which is the nation’s eighth-largest poultry producer.

“And we want it done right, we want this to be a place the associates take pride in, a place they want to come to,” he said, showing off a brightly-colored engine room where the colors double as a coding system for what is going through each of the pipes. “We want this to be a place, to create an atmosphere that it’s something they take pride in, something they want to be a part of and take care of,” Townsend continued.

While getting the freezer operation and distribution system up and running is a priority, construction continues on a partial fry plant adjacent to the distribution center just to the west. That could be operating next spring and eventually employ as many as 300 people once at full production.

Full-scale hiring for that plant will begin once the plant gets closer to completion.

In the meantime, the company still has the resumes, applications and interview results from the many people who showed up at last fall’s job fair.

And people still can apply at the WIN Job Center at EMCC in Mayhew or the branch in West Point. And Townsend knows word of the hiring will generate calls and traffic.

“We understand that and want people to look at us as a part of the community. That’s what we want to be. We are trying to be as open and transparent as possible,” he said.

By the time both plants are operating, Peco expects to have made a $70 million investment in the site on West Church Hill Road.

Townsend said people who think they are on the call list can call the plant at 662-524-3980.