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April 4, 2007
HARRISONBURG — The Tyson Foods chicken processing facility will hire 110 workers in the coming months, officials say.
The company also will spend $2.5 million on new equipment as it moves toward more value-added products at the North Liberty Street facility, said complex manager Danny Sutton.
With a strong local economy and unemployment rates consistently under 3 percent, hiring 110 people presents a challenge.
"We’ll start hiring in late April and phase them in," Sutton said. "Most [of the jobs] are in production, some are maintenance and a few are supervisors or supervisory support."
The new hires will bring Tyson’s local work force up to around 440, he added. That will put Tyson among the city’s 10 largest employers.
"Right now, we have about 225 in the plant and another 100 in live production," Sutton said. "We won’t have any changes in live production."
In mid-2004, Tyson laid off 200 employees, cutting its work force by about one-third.
"We have several applications from people who worked for us before," Sutton said. "We’re heartened that the word is getting out."
A Bigger Bird
Tyson’s Harrisonburg facility processes 665,000 birds per week.
The product is primarily bulk front halves for deboning at other plants and bulk leg quarters for domestic and international sales, Sutton explained.
The number of birds will remain the same, but the plant will process a slightly larger bird.
"The birds now are 3.9 pounds," Sutton said. "We’re going to grow them about a quarter-pound heavier."
The weight change reflects the move toward a more value-added product targeted for the grocery deli and quick-service restaurant segments, he explained.
The added value is marinating, breading or otherwise preparing the chicken pieces or whole birds to make them ready to cook. Those products are scheduled to begin coming off the line June 18.
One of Tyson’s strategic objectives is to create more value-added products, said company spokesman Gary Mickelson
"We are seeking to accomplish this at many locations," Michelson said.
The value-added production at the Harrisonburg facility will be phased in over a period of several weeks to give the new people a chance to complete training. The $2.5 million worth of new equipment is expected to arrive in May and June, Sutton said.
Founded in 1935, Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN) has its headquarters in Springdale, Ark. The company has 114,000 employees and 2006 sales of $25 billion.
Tyson stock closed Tuesday at $19.85 per share, up 16 cents from Monday.