The much anticipated day has finally arrived. On Wednesday, December 4, the Open Range Beef (ORB) Packing Plant opens for business. A city ribbon cutting ceremony was held Tuesday, December 3 at the packing plant, which is located at 120 W. Hwy 20 in Gordon.
The 36,000 square foot plant employs 100 people and hopes to process 65-70 thousand cattle annually at a projected cost of $120 million. Open Range Beef, LLC also expects to bring $4.5 million to the community through payroll, and $420,000 in utility expenses. The company projects a total positive economic impact of $22-25 million.
Open Range Beef, LLC is managed by principals Pat Shudak, Jill Noetzelman and Tim Donmoyer, and General Manager David Blake.
Open Range Beef purchased the plant from the City of Gordon in late June, 2013, and has spent the last five months renovating and remodeling the Packing Plant with the latest state-of-the-art equipment and materials.
The employee and management attitudes have been very up-beat and optimistic throughout the construction phase as the plant prepares to start harvesting cattle on Wednesday. “It’s been a tremendous amount of hard work, yet a lot of fun preparing this plant for operation,” stated Shudak and Noetzelman. “We are very proud of the diligent efforts by our entire team. An unbelievable amount of work has been accomplished in just five short months. The results have been amazing.”
“The people and community of Gordon have been extremely supportive and welcoming during the process. We couldn’t have chosen a better place to start a business,” added Noetzelman.
After a ramp-up and training period, the plant expects to hit a target of 250-300 head per day, 1,500 head per week. ORB will be custom killing for Hartley Ranch, a certified beef producer that has high-end clients in both the domestic and overseas markets, and will be utilizing local feeders to supply its USDA Graded cattle.
“We are fortunate to have a team that consists of experienced local talent, motivated new hires, as well as supervisors recruited nationally for their technical and business experience,” stated David Blake, Plant Manager. “I have been a part of several major plants, and I have great expectations for the longevity of this plant. The beef harvesting and processing industry is a very cash intensive and volatile commodity based business, but none of the past plant businesses have had the potential that this group of owners, managers and employees have as a team.”
Gordon City Manager, Fred Hlava, added that “with cattle and agriculture being the two top leaders in revenue generation for the State of Nebraska, it’s important that we try to maximize opportunities that we have available relating to the base industry of the area to increase our property tax base, employment opportunities and economic growth for our community and area. We feel very fortunate that the Open Range Beef Investment Group looked at this mid-size plant as a business opportunity and to our advantage, one that will provide economic benefits for our community, region and state. We all wish them great success!”
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