The nation’s fourth largest poultry processor, Sanderson Farms, announced in early 2008 the plans for a fully integrated poultry processor in Lenoir County, just outside Kinston. Then nothing.
Bob Billingsley, Director of Development and Engineering for Sanderson Farms explains why the Kinston project was put on hold:
“In 2008 when we had the issues with the economy, and corn and soy, the feed ingredients to us got high, and credit issues in the country, we project on hold. It was never an issue of “if” we’d come to Kinston, it was always “when” we would come to Kinston. Our balance sheet drives our company, it drives what we do, it drives the growth of our company, and we paused in ’08. And a little over a year ago, we brought the project back on line with a January 2011 start-up, and we’re on target to meet that schedule, as we speak.”
Sanderson has quietly become a major player in the poultry industry, processing 8.125 million birds weekly. Billingsley describes the operations at their Kinston plant:
“We’ve got a hatchery, that we’re in today, and it’s a 60,000 foot pre-cast constructed hatchery that will provide the baby chicks that will support this facility. The beginning of November, we’ll start placing eggs in here and being able to hatch baby chicks to go onto the farms, the contract producers that we’ve secured in this area sometime the middle of November.
We’ve got a 8,000 ton per week feed mill that will provide the feed for these birds that we’ll be growing in eastern North Carolina, and we’ll bring that online sometime in November as well. That feed mill, as I mentioned, capable of producing 8,000 tons per week we will use as much local corn, and local ingredients as we can get, then we also have the capacity on site to bring in 75-car unit trains of corn from the Midwest to support our operations here.”
Sanderson Farms in Kinston will be a retail servicing operation, in spite of their proximity to several major Atlantic ports. Billingsley says that one of their criteria for moving to Kinston was to more efficiently service their east coast customers, utilizing the I-95 corridor as far north as New York, as well as building their business:
“The closer you can get to a customer the better your able to service them, and one of the hallmarks of our company is always been customer service. And this will just allow us to be able to be there, to be close to them and service them and take care of them as you should.”
We’ll hear more from Bob Billingsley, Director of Development and Engineering with Sanderson Farms next time on Today’s Topic. (Kinston, pt 2)