Owens Foods plant to nearly double in size, add about 120 employees

Groundbreaking set for Monday on Sulphur Springs facility's expansion

From Staff and Wire Reports

June 20, 2008 - Owens Foods, makers of Owens Country Sausage and a popular line of convenience food items, will break ground next week on a plant expansion that will nearly double the Sulphur Springs facility's current size and ultimately add 120 more workers -- and they may not be finished growing, either.

The company has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony for 9 a.m. next Monday, June 23, at the plant, located at 1109 East Industrial Drive.

The construction project will add 50,000 square feet to the existing 52,777 square foot plant, representing a $16 million investment by the company.

"The success of this operation is a testament to the partnership we have felt with the community of Sulphur Springs," said Owens Foods Vice President of Operations Phil Chapman. "We are proud of our plant management team's involvement in this community and are grateful for the positive, enthusiastic response we have received from the people, the government and city management of Sulphur Springs.

"This project would not have been possible without assistance from the city government of Sulphur Springs, the Economic Development Corporation from Hopkins County, and from the Hopkins County Memorial Hospital board. We would like to thank these officials for their support of our business in this area."

The Sulphur Springs plant currently serves as a sandwich production facility for Owens Foods and its parent company, Bob Evans Farms. Owens' and Bob Evans' popular line of convenience food items for retail, food service and convenience store distribution are produced at the plant.

"This expansion is essential to meeting the increasing demand by our customers for our popular convenience sandwich items, including our breakfast sandwiches, fully-cooked sausage and breakfast tacos," said Chapman. "We currently have product distribution in 49 states, and expect to ship 28 million pounds of product annually when we are at full capacity in this expanded facility."

The additional capacity will allow for more production area, as well as storage, warehouse and training room areas. When construction is complete, the company expects to add to its work force, as well, said Chapman.

"We plan to hire 60 additional employees soon after opening, and another 60 as production expands in the new facility."

Chapman noted that Owens Foods and Bob Evans Farms have purchased nine additional acres at the site, which will bring the company's total acreage at the Sulphur Springs plant to 22. This may allow for further growth in the future, Chapman said.

Because the new area will be connected by a hallway to the existing building, the company anticipates no interruption in production during the construction process. The facility is expected to be complete by May of 2009. Lincoln Construction will serve as the general contractor on the site.

Chapman is scheduled to give the opening remarks at 9 a.m. Monday and introduce Mike Townsley, the president of Bob Evans Food Products. Others scheduled to speak are Sulphur Springs attorney and Economic Development Corporation Board President Carl Bryan; Mayor Oscar Aguilar; and Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap.

Other notable invitees to the ceremony include Laurie O'Neal, the East Texas region representative of the governor's office for economic development and tourism; Kurt Schmitt, president of Lincoln Construction; Roger Feagley, executive director of the Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County EDC; City Manager Marc Maxwell; and Bill Elliott, who recently retired as president of the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce.

It's not the first time Owens officials have come to Sulphur Springs to celebrate the successful venture. In December of 2005, Townsley and other dignitaries from the company came to town to host a celebration of the second anniversary of the plant's opening. They also made a point to offer praise and express appreciation to the employees and to the city of Sulphur Springs for the partnerships that had developed.

"The success of the past two years is a result of the hard work and dedication of the work force at the Sulphur Springs facility," Townsley said.

Owens first opened the plant in November of 2003 after purchasing and renovating the former home of Kozy Shack, a pudding manufacturer.

OPTIONAL TRIM

In addition to this facility, Owens and Bob Evans have food production plants in Richardson, Texas; Bidwell, Springfield and Xenia, Ohio; Hillsdale, Mich.; and Galva, Ill.

Owens Country Sausage is a subsidiary of Bob Evans Farms Inc. Bob Evans Farms is a leading producer and distributor of pork sausage and a variety of convenience food items under the Bob Evans and Owens brand names. Bob Evans Farms also owns and operates full-service restaurants under the Bob Evans and Mimi's Cafe brand names. At the end of the fourth fiscal quarter on April 25, Bob Evans owned and operated 571 family restaurants in 18 states, primarily in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States, while Mimi's Cafe owned and operated 132 casual restaurants located in 22 states, primarily in California and other western states. For more information about Bob Evans Farms, Inc., visit the company's Web site at www.bobevans.com.

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