New plant close to being open
The Wells Food Processing LLC plant in Wells is close to opening, the CEO of the company which owns it says.
“We hope to be in production on or about Labor Day,” says Elam Baer, CEO of North Central Equity LLC, which owns Wells Food Processing and six other companies.
North Central Equity, headquartered in Minneapolis, purchased the former Singleteary Foods plant from Pioneer Bank of Mankato back in February of this year.
Singleteary Foods had spent years and $8 million in public monies promising to open the plant without success. Pioneer Bank had taken over ownership of the plant for non-payment of $4 million in loans back in 2013.
Baer says the preparations for opening the plant have “come along as well as we expected.”
“The plant and machinery were all in pretty good shape,” he says. “But, we have had to do a lot of work, some remodeling, cleaning and testing, things like that.”
He adds they are currently testing the machinery and doing product test runs, running meat through the plant, with about 15 employees in the office and plant at this time.
When they open, Wells Food Processing will be a full custom meat processing plant for other entities, Baer explains.
“If you (a food company) want meat cut, ground, shaped, fried and frozen, we can do it,” he says. “Some customers may come to us and say ‘give us a ton of chicken nuggets,’ and we will produce it. But others may supply us with a recipe, spices, a certain formula for a specific product and we will do that, as well.”
They will also be processing some of their own products, but it will not be produced for local markets under the Wells Food Processing label.
“We will market our product to various food businesses, food distributors, school lunch programs, things like that,” Baer explains. “You just won’t see any product under a Wells Food brand in your local grocery store.” Down the road, Wells Food Processing will be hiring as many employees as will be needed to operate the plant as production increases.
“Of course, we first have to have the customers lined up, then we will have the employees hired to fill the demand,” Baer says. “But for right now, it is just a matter of getting the bugs in the operation worked out so we can get production underway.”
North Central Equity is a privately held, Minnesota based, holding company with a growing portfolio of subsidiaries.
Among those are: Corporate Technologies, LLC, with six locations around the U.S.; M&M Tool and Mold, LLC, in Green Bay; Mereen Johnson, a factory wood working tool manufacturer in Minneapolis; Perham Egg, LLC, an egg breaking producer of liquid eggs; Yeardon Fabric Domes, manufacturer of air-supported sports domes.
And now, also Wells Food Processing, LLC.