RANTOUL — Rantoul Foods pork processing plant will build five more loading docks, a shipping office and another finished-product cooling unit to handle the large number of hogs being processed.
The plant, located at 205 Turner Drive in the village's industrial park, slaughters and processes between 3,700 and 4,000 hogs a day.
James Jendruczek, president and managing partner, said the facility needs to grow to keep up with the product load.
"There are not enough" docks, Jendruczek said, adding that the company knew before it opened in June that more would be needed.
"We will have eight docks that we can use to load out the fresh product," Jendruczek said.
Work on the $1.8 million cooling unit-docks-shipping office project will begin when weather permits. Jendruczek said either the ground needs to dry or it needs to freeze to accommodate construction.
"We're planning on starting soon, weather permitting," he said.
Rantoul Foods parent Trim-Rite bought the plant last year and invested $11 million to prepare it for operation. The plant operates one shift.
It started with a work force of about 150 people, which has since grown to about 300, according to Jendruczek.
The 129,000-square-foot facility was opened by Meadowbrook, a farmer-owned cooperative of more than 100 members, in 2004. It closed in 2009 because of financial trouble.
Trim-Rite purchased the state-of-the-art facility in September 2010.
The company produces a wide range of pork products made to customer specifications and is delivered as the customer specifies — either fresh or frozen.
Jendruczek said business has been good.
"The customers are very pleased with our product," he said.
Jendruczek said Rantoul Foods makes a quality product and called it "maybe the best product there is. If it's not the best, it's one of the best. That's important in this (economic) environment."
The new docks will be added on the plant's west side. Live hogs are delivered to docks on the east side.
Jendruczek said the company buys hogs from a variety of pork producers, ranging from small to large operations.
"We treat them fairly," he said. "I know we pay top dollar. When they look at their check, it's always more money" than other processors pay.
Hog prices generally vary according to the time of the year. This time of year generally sees lower prices.
Jendruczek said hog prices have dropped to about $62 per hundred weight from a summer high of $87 per hundred weight.
The president said the company is glad it selected the site.
"We like the town," Jendruczek said. "We're supporting the town by our payroll. The town is having some positive things happen, and I think a lot of it is people are working."
Jendruczek said Rantoul Foods' annual payroll averages about $150,000 a week.