Raber Packing continues with rebuilding plans

The rebuilding of Raber Packing Co. still is in the planning process, but owner Buddy Courdt has a vision for the new facility. Courdt announced his plans to rebuild the fourth-generation family meat processing business shortly after a fire claimed the old facility on Nov. 8.

WEST PEORIA, Ill. — What took less than 24 hours to destroy will take a little longer to rebuild.

Raber Packing Co., which burned on Nov. 8, 2018, will rise from the ashes. The new and improved meat processing, shop and demonstration facility that owner Buddy Courdt envisions is in the planning process.

“We are working on designing a plant that is innovative and efficient,” Courdt said.

In April, Courdt and Jim Dillon, mayor of West Peoria, conducted a news conference to announce that the fourth-generation meat processing company would relocate to West Peoria and would rebuild.

“To have a business this size that is family oriented, going to build union, is exciting,” said Dillon as he and Courdt, surrounded by members of the Raber and Courdt families and Raber employees, stood at the site of the future facility.

The new facility will be a 40,000 square foot facility that is going on almost 10 acres of property, which will leave room for possible future expansion.

“I can’t wait to see the first shovel of dirt turned and get that much closer to having Raber’s back open,” Dillon said.

On Aug. 30, Courdt said that the rebuilding process for the kind of modern meat processing facility he wants takes some time to get just right.

“We are still in the planning process. Navigating the rebuild process is extensive and intensive,” Courdt said.

Even back in April, Courdt said the company had a long road ahead before the “Open for Business” sign would go up.

“I don’t foresee anything being a problem, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.

One major change on the business end is that the new Raber Packing Co. will be able to sell its meat products around the country. The facility is moving from being state inspected to being federally inspected, which will allow products to be sold commercially anywhere in the United States.

The larger facility also will hold more live animals for processing.

“We could easily do 300 to 400 hogs a week and 50 beef a week if we wanted to and if we get to that point,” Courdt said.

Courdt said he has maintained contact with the area farmers who supplied animals to the original facility.

“I talk to at least one or two farmers a week, wanting to know what’s going on, when it’s going to happen. They want to plan for that future, so I don’t see too many difficulties there in having all those relationships back,” Courdt said.

Jeannine Otto can be reached at 815-223-2558, ext. 211, or jotto@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Otto.

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