Continental Dairy Facility hiring 115 people ahead of 2019 opening inside old Littlefield denim mill
LITTLEFIELD, TX (KCBD) - Continental Dairy Facilities Southwest LLC is set to be fully operational in March of 2019 and is looking for employees to staff its production plant in Littlefield on the property formerly housing the American Cotton Growers denim mill.
In October of 2015 Continental Dairy announced it would acquire the mill and invest $280 million to convert it into a state-of-the-art milk processing plant. Earlier that year the mill closed, leaving more than 300 employees without a job.
“We had done a similar construction operation up in Coopersville, Michigan where we took and old GM plant and turned it into a dairy plant,” President and General Manager Steven Cooper said. “We really liked that business model so this was a perfect size for us and perfect location. So, we took this old facility that was shut down for a while and we’re rehabbing it now.”
Cooper said a lot of the facility’s milk producers are centrally located in the South Plains region. Continental will use most of the old mill for warehousing and employee support. An additional 125 thousand square feet was added for the milk processing.
“We’re basically a food ingredient company,” Cooper said. " You won’t really see our name on a store shelf anywhere. We supply a lot of major food manufacturers here in the United States for things like yogurt and whip cream, ice cream and those types of things, cheese."
Cooper tells KCBD the plant will provide employment opportunities to 115 workers but even more indirectly. The hope is this will reinvigorate the Littlefield economy.
“With every job that we create, there is probably about seven other jobs that support our facility through milk truck drivers, farm workers, companies that supply us with packaging supplies,” Cooper said. “We see all of that effect of the indirect jobs that come into the community as well.”
Those jobs need to be filled by December or January to begin training. Right now, employees in place are doing automation checks.
“Food processing is very specific,” Cooper said. “We have to make sure everyone understands food safety. We produce a very safe product. We train a lot for about 3 months before we turn the switches and start bringing milk.”
Continental says it exports to 14 other countries around the globe with most exports going to Mexico. An estimated 80 truckloads of milk a day will be brought to the plant to be separated into non-fat dry milk or butter.
Aside from the $280 million investment into the facility itself, Cooper said an additional $28 million was spent to construct a wastewater treatment plant to convert wastewater from the plant into irrigation quality water for use by regional farmers.
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