Laurel — Sanderson Farms will keep its headquarters here, as the city council has voted to raise no objection to the company’s request that its new general offices facility, now under construction, be annexed.
“It’s part of our heritage that we trace our roots back to Laurel,” according to Bob Billingsley, director of development and engineering.
The $20-million facility, some 100,000 square feet in three wings connected by a large lobby, is located on 80 acres adjacent to Laurel’s western city limits. Fountain Construction Co. of Jackson, the general contractor, describes the facility as a “lodge-style building.” It has a board room, dining area, auditorium that seats 200 and will be used for corporate meetings and training sessions, in addition to space for offices for employees and management.
The auditorium will be available for community use.
Target date for completion is March 1, 2006, according to Fountain. Work started in January of this year.
Billingsley said that “we’re in dire need of additional space.” He indicated that the facility being built would allow people who are now “farmed out all over the place” to be located in one facility.
Sanderson’s general offices are now located in a building that was converted from a hatchery and renovated in 1980. At that time, the company had 30 office workers and 1,100 total employees. Some 130 employees will work in the new headquarters.
“Several divisions work in the current office and three others — external auditing, grain management and fleet management — have had to be relocated in satellite buildings,” Mike Cockrell, treasurer and CEO, said. “Now, except for lab-centered divisions, all of them will be consolidated.”
The existing building will be expanded, remodeled and updated and the microbiology, lab services and quality assurance divisions will remain there.
With Sanderson’s opening of a new hatchery and feed mill in Adel, Ga., this summer, the company will be on track to employ 1,700 additional workers, bringing companywide employment to 10,000 employees in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Georgia.
Decades of growth
Sanderson Farms has grown from a single feed and seed store into the country’s fifth-largest poultry producer. Incorporated in 1955, Sanderson has been publicly held since 1987. (Its stock is traded on NASDAQ with the symbol SAFM.)
In addition to what a company spokesperson calls its 10,000-member “family” of employees, Sanderson does business with more than 600 independent growers. The company’s output is more than 1.5 billion pounds of product annually, with 2004 sales of over $1 billion, which set a company record. In addition to its domestic markets, Sanderson sells to customers in the Pacific rim, South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Mideast.
Sanderson produces fresh, frozen and further processed chicken, as well as more than 100 frozen prepared entrees and other specialty items to a customer base of distributors, food service operators, club stores and retailers in the Southeast, Southwest, Midwest and West.
There are hatcheries in Laurel, McComb, Hazlehurst, Collins and in Bryan, Texas; feed mills in Laurel, McComb, Hazlehurst and Bryan and processing plants in the same locations as hatcheries, with the addition of Hammond, La.
Along with the new hatchery and feed mill in Adel, Ga., Sanderson will operate a wastewater treatment plant in Moultrie, Ga.
Once annexed, Sanderson’s Laurel headquarters will be able to receive sewer and water services, and fire protection, from the city. The Chancery Court must approve the annexation request but there is no opposition to the annexation and none is expected to arise, according to a company spokesperson.
Water and sewer lines now run up to the edge of Sanderson’s 80 acres, according to Cockrell. “They will need to be extended onto the property. And some repair and updating work will probably have to done.”
Getting it built
Fountain Construction had its beginning in 1959, when D.G. “Sonny” Fountain opened a residential electrical contracting company. Soon, the company had expanded and was working on such commercial projects as the Baptist Hospital and St. Dominic Health Center in Jackson.
During the 1970s, Fountain added divisions such as sheet metal fabrication and in 1985, became a general contractor. For the Sanderson headquarters project, Fountain assembled a design team consisting of:
• Charles N. Clark Associates, project architect/civil engineer.
• Holomon Architects, P.A., design architect.
• Structural Engineering Associates, LLC.
• HESMA, mechanical engineers.
• Andy Covington, electrical engineer.
• Owens Design Group, LLC, interior design.
In 2001, Fountain installed a 1,500- horsepower boiler and associated piping system for Sanderson, at a cost of $680,000.
In May of this year, Sanderson announced a $20-million expansion project for the Collins poultry processing and hatchery facility. The facility has been involved in both retail and big-bird deboning operations but will be converted to process exclusively for the big bird deboning market.
Included in the project will be expansion of the Collins hatchery, retrofitting certain equipment and construction of a new feed mill.
Chairman Joe F. Sanderson Jr. said, “Our strategic market shift over the past several years to focus our production and processing on higher margin products has served us well.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at email@example.com.
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