Simmons Pet Food broke ground today on a $38 million Flexible Packaging Facility expansion project in Emporia.

Located at 1300 E. Logan Ave., Simmons is a leading North American private-label and contract manufacturer of wet and dry pet food and treats.

The facility currently employs 500 people and the new investment will increase operations by 200,000 square feet and will create approximately 100 new jobs. The company expects to begin operations in 2019.

“The expansion of our operations in Emporia represents a story about the strength of good people doing great work, strong performance and dependable partnerships,” said Jason Beyer, vice president of operations at Emporia’s Simmons facility. “Emporia is the place we call home, and we are proud to be part of helping this community grow through job creation.”

The Emporia Flexible Packaging Facility will increase Simmons Pet Food’s capacity for flexible production and packaging for select wet pet food products. With demand for cup, tub and pouch packaging formats projected to exceed the existing capabilities, this expansion will add substantial capacity to ensure Simmons Pet Food meets customer demand.

“One hundred additional jobs will be a strong start, but this new facility could accommodate more jobs if customers continue to increase their need for our wet pet food product,” Beyer said. “Our current estimated annual payroll based on 500 jobs is $33,608,000. One hundred more jobs will increase the annual estimated payroll by about $5.8 million.”

The expansion will increase yearly facility output to an estimated 12.4 million cases of wet pet food cups and 2.4 million cases of tubs when it reaches full capacity in 2022.

“Today’s announcement by Simmons Pet Food is great news for the economy in East Central Kansas,” said Kent Heermann, president of the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas. “This expansion will create even more skilled, well-paying jobs for the qualified workforce in the region. We are proud to have worked collaboratively with Simmons Pet Food, the City of Emporia and the Kansas Department of Commerce on this expansion.”

The RDA focuses on retention, expansion and recruitment of local industries. Heermann said he thought the area’s labor availability was a determining factor in Simmons choosing Emporia for the expansion.

“The confidence Simmons had in our labor market here, not only with entry-level workers but skilled technical, skilled professional — was a plus,” he said. “There are good relationships with Flint Hills Technical College; I believe there are over 50 graduates now working at Simmons. Emporia State University has several graduates who work in accounting, quality assurance and management. There is good representation from our post-secondary institutions here, so that made a difference.”

The new expansion isn’t the only new, exciting news for Simmons, as the company is also building a Care Clinic at the location to serve local team members. It is scheduled to open in winter 2018.

Beyer said as health care costs continue to increase, Simmons Foods is dedicated to providing comprehensive family care at no cost to team members and their dependents who are covered by Simmons’ medical plan.

“Simmons team members and their covered dependents who use the Simmons Care Clinic will be cared for by a highly-qualified team of nurses, X-ray and lab technicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and physicians,” he said. “Each Simmons Care Clinic offers essential preventative, diagnostic and acute care services ranging from wellness and preventative care to acute and general health care and chronic disease management.”

Beyer said the expansion of these operations in Emporia represents a story about the strength of good people doing great work, creating strong performance and solid partnerships.

“This about the strength of 500 or so Simmons team members who are making a difference at our existing facilities by consistently delivering high-quality products that satisfy our customers,” Beyer said. “This is also a strong story about current performance building the foundation for future performance, and that’s a big part of why we are expanding our operations in Emporia.

“Finally, this new facility is a story about the strength of partnerships. The state of Kansas has been a good partner to Simmons, providing performance-based incentives to energize our business and stimulate economic growth throughout this area.”

Beyer said the City of Emporia and the people in the community were the right fit for Simmons Pet Food.

“Emporia is the place Simmons Pet Food calls home,” he said. “We also have a strong partnership with our friends at Flint Technical College and Emporia State University, which provide talented professionals. We can’t say enough about Kent Heermann and the good people at the Emporia Chamber of Commerce, who have worked tirelessly to partner with us and make all these facilities a reality.”

Simmons Pet Food - By the Numbers:

2019 - Simmons Pet Food Flexible Packaging Facility projected to open

45 - Estimated acres of land deeded by the City of Emporia for the project

200,000+ - Approximate square footage of the Flexible Packaging Facility

$38 million - Projected Simmons Pet Food investment in the project

12.4 million - Estimated facility output of cases of cups at full capacity

2.4 million - Estimated facility output of case of tubs at full capacity

500 Approximate total of current Simmons team members in Emporia

100+ - Estimated new, full-time jobs

$33,608,000 - Current estimated annual payroll (500 existing team members)

$39,442,000 - Projected estimated annual payroll (100 additional team members)

$45,277,000 - Projected estimated annual payroll (200 additional team members)

1964 - Year Simmons Foods began producing pet food

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(3) comments

debbie coop

Wonderful,I live in Washington st.now,but was raised in Emporia.I will always call it home.I keep track of what's going on there,I still have a lot of ties to the area.so very glad to see what this plant and company is doing.keep up the good work,and I pray some of my family gets a job there.Love Emporia

Ril

Without a doubt there will be many more low end jobs than mid-level paying jobs. However, I'm sure our RDA staff deserves a big raise, because being secretive all the time must be terribly hard work!

BaseballFan

Ril: Wish there was "thumbs up" button! Some of us have been discussing why Herrman turned down the 1700 jobs the new Tyson chicken facility would have provided. Guess the powers that be want to be able to keep their thumbs on the working class.

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