By LESLIE EIKLEBERRY
Schwan's Company announced today the 400,000-square-foot expansion of its pizza manufacturing facility at the Salina Airport Industrial Center, bringing with it 225 new full-time jobs by 2023.
Numerous local, state, and federal dignitaries, including Salina Mayor Mike Hoppock, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, and United States Senator Jerry Moran, were on hand for the announcement on the sunny plaza area outside the main entrance to Tony's Pizza Events Center this afternoon.
The announcement came as the company celebrates its 50th year of operating a pizza production facility in Salina. Construction on the expansion is scheduled to begin in September of this year, and the plan is to complete the facility and begin making pizzas in the expanded area in December 2022, the company noted.
"This is the type of event as a mayor you dream of, and we are very pleased to be here and excited for what is going on in our community," Hoppock said. "It seems to me that it is only fitting the Schwan's announcement takes place here at the Tony's Pizza Events Center. The fact that we can see Tony's Pizza's name on the building -- what a beautiful backdrop for this -- gives us some idea of the partnership Schwan's and the City of Salina has and reminds us of what an asset Schwan's has been to our community for 50 years."
Hoppock said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, today's announcement and the investment being made by Schwan's came at the perfect time.
"It gives Salina hope that we, as a community, will continue to grow and flourish," he said.
In addition to the 225 new full-time jobs, the new facility will include automated state-of-the-art pizza production lines, shipping and receiving docks, and office space, according to information provided by the company.
"This venture is a testament to our commitment to create good jobs for Kansans, especially at this critical time as we work to recover from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19," Kelly told those assembled. "In addition to the 225 full-time jobs created, this expansion also secures the long-term future of over 1,000 current Schwan's workers. We want these jobs to stay right here in Salina. Right here in Kansas."
Schwan's employs 1,125 people in its current 550,000-square-foot production facility and distribution center in Salina, company information noted.
Kelly pointed out, however, that while the expansion will have an obvious impact on Salina, the impact will ripple throughout the state.
"It's also good news for suppliers across Kansas. Seven Kansas companies provide materials, ranging from flour, salt, and meat to cartons and packing supplies. In all 17 Kansas-based vendors supply products and services to the facility. It's a big win for Kansas up and down the supply chain," she said.
The company noted that "additional projects are planned for the Salina site over the next several years as Schwan's plans for continued growth in the company's pizza business, representing an investment of several hundred million dollars in total."
In her introduction of Moran, Kelly thanked Moran "for being such a terrific partner and strong advocate for Kansas."
"Now Senator Moran, you know I was told that I could say whatever I wanted to about you. And so I do want to give Senator Moran a shout-out, not only for what he has done for this project and many other projects in the State of Kansas, but also for what a strong partner he has been as we battle our way through this pandemic," Kelly said.
Moran thanked Schwan's for its efforts and noted that the timing of the announcement was good.
"We have a lot of challenges with COVID-19, and it's good news whenever we save jobs at any time. It's a good day when we add jobs to the Kansas workforce, but especially today when there's so much uncertainty in people's lives," Moran said.
According to information provided by Schwan's, "the company is investing in the Salina Facility to support its growth initiative in the retail and food-service markets in the U.S. and abroad."
Founded in 1952, Schwan's Company is a subsidiary of South Korean food maker CJ CheilJedang. Schwan's focuses on making pizzas, desserts, and Asian-style foods for in-service venues, grocery stores, and other retail outlets throughout North America.
"For 50 years, we have made steady investments in growing our operations in Salina, and our facility eventually became what we believe is the largest pizza production facility in the world," Schwan's CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios said. "This new investment in Salina will help ensure that we can achieve our growth plans and continue to provide delicious pizzas to millions of families for decades to come."
The new facility is also projected to have environmental improvements, according to information from the company.
Schwan's projects that the new facility will help the company reduce its waste-water output by 10,000 gallons a day and will feature state-of-the-art equipment designs that deliver natural gas efficiencies of 18,000 standard cubic feet annually. Additionally, Schwan's also has a 20-year agreement to purchase renewable energy from Soldier Creek Wind Farm in Kansas.
According to Schwan's, Burns & McDonnell, a 100-percent employee owned engineering and construction company, will lead the architecture, engineering, and construction of the facility.