A staple of the Ponoka business community will soon be returning to full operations following a major disruption nearly four months ago.
On Dec. 1, 2019, Family Meats Ltd. lost its slaughter facility in a fire, which forced the company to make some changes in its local processing operation. While maintaining the level of employment for all its employees through movement of people between other slaughter facilities, the company was committed to rebuilding in Ponoka.
General manager Jent Hoekstra explained the decision to build onto the production facility at 57 Ave. and 49 St. the company moved to nearly two years ago.
“Constructing the slaughter facility at the same location as production makes things a lot easier for us, but to be clear both facilities are separate,” he said.
“The key reasons for that is maintaining the cleanliness for each as well as the safety of those working on each side, as there are different personal protective requirements in each operation. It will speed things up as before, we had to plan how much product to transport each day to meet production. Now, they will be able to grab what is needed.”
Actual construction of the slaughter facility started in mid-February with Hoekstra anticipating completion by the middle of April.
“Things are looking really good. It’s really incredible just how many trades are in and out of the building,” he said.
“The building is slightly bigger than the other facility and is laid out a lot better.”
The new building is around 10,000 square feet — about 1,500 square feet more — and will accommodate an expected increase in production as Hoekstra has seen demand increase.
He added once it is operational, there may be a need to fill about five to 10 more positions, “and that’s really important in times like we are experiencing now.”