Texas company breaks ground on first Mo. plant

Vital Farms and local officials break ground on the egg-processing plant expected to support 50 jobs in the first year of operation.

Zach Smith, Reporter, Springfield Business Journal
9/28/2016 10:27 AM

The project architect is Buxton Kubik Dodd Creative, and Branco Enterprises Inc. will serve as on-site construction manager.

Austin, Texas-based Vital Farms may not be putting all of its eggs in one basket, but it plans on putting a lot of them in a new processing plant planned at Partnership Industrial Center West.

Company officials along with representatives from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Business Development Corp. held a groundbreaking ceremony this morning at the site of the planned 82,140-square-foot egg-processing plant. Located on 11 acres at the corner of North Alliance Avenue and Production Street in PIC West, the plant will be the company’s first in Missouri, as well as the first of its kind for Vital Farms, said President and Chief Operations Officer Russell Diez-Canseco.

“We’ve operated our own much smaller plants, and currently we rely on other companies to co-pack for us,” said Diez-Canseco, noting Mid-States Specialty Eggs serves in that capacity from a facility in Sedalia. “We’re excited to bring that in and do it ourselves in a full-scale plant.”

The plant would serve as a processing facility for the company’s supply chain of 100 farmers who provide eggs from pasture-raised hens, involving grading, quality inspection, sorting, packing and transportation of the eggs to over 6,000 U.S. grocery stores, including The Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market, Target and Kroger.

Company officials declined to disclose the planned investment for the Springfield facility, which has an estimated completion date of September 2017. The project architect is Buxton Kubik Dodd Creative, and Branco Enterprises Inc. will serve as on-site construction manager.

“We project that by the end of the first year we’ll have created more than 50 full-time jobs with benefits,” Diez-Canseco said, adding about 40 positions would be related to production with about 10 employees performing management and analytical support duties.

It’s not the company’s first look at southwest Missouri.

The groundbreaking ceremony comes roughly nine months after the Austin American-Statesman reported the company had selected a site in Joplin for a planned 65,000-square-foot, $11.5 million plant. The company chose Springfield, Diez-Canseco said, after evaluating other sites in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, and meeting with members of Springfield’s business community in January.

“When we first met, they brought an entire team of people from the chamber, the city, the utility district and we felt really overwhelmed by the amount of support,” Diez-Canseco said. “We were convinced we could make things happen quickly.”

Diez-Canseco also pointed to Springfield-Branson National Airport as a deciding factor.

"One of the things that was helpful to come to Springfield was the number of flights," he said. "Joplin, at the time, was at two and Springfield was at 40. It's easier to get in and out of."