SIOUX CITY | Seaboard Triumph Foods officials spent much of 2017 undertaking the largest hiring initiative in recent Sioux City history.
Besides the challenge of trying to recruiting more than 1,000 workers for a single shift, the pork plant faced an additional obstacle: A historically low local unemployment rate under 3 percent.
Early in the process, STF human resources director Bridey Hayes compared the effort to “trying to eat an elephant.”
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” Hayes said.
Despite the challenges, STF officials felt so confident in their ability to build a local workforce they announced in February the plant would host a second shift that would nearly double employment.
The 925,000-square-foot plant went online in early September, with only a few hundred workers. The plant met chief operating officer Mark Porter's goal of being fully staffed by late November, with 900 hourly and 200 salaried employees.
With a single shift, the plant has the capacity to slaughter 10,000 hogs per day, making it the second-largest fresh pork plant in the world and the newest facility of its kind in the United States.
The addition of a second shift, set to launch in summer 2018, would add 900 hourly workers and push the plant’s workforce past 2,000, instantly making it one of Sioux City's top three employers.
The sprawling complex covers 22 acres under one roof. With a total site of 251 acres in the city's Bridgeport West Business Park, Porter has hinted about the plant's potential for additional expansion.
“We won’t expand in fresh pork,” he said in a November interview. “Most likely, it would be case-ready or smoked meat or fully-cooked meat. We would most likely attach on to the north side or to the northwest.”