Iowa Food Group preparing for January opening CEO Robinson praises community support

Monday, January 7, 2019
Ready for business Cherokee’s sprawling former Tyson Foods Plant on the City’s south edge will once again be humming in the meat business with the announcement today that Iowa Food Group Inc. will begin operations in January.
Photo by Denny Holton

he former Cherokee Tyson Foods Plant here is quickly coming alive with activity thanks to its new resident and Plant owner, Iowa Food Group (IFG).

As promised, Cherokee’s Iowa Food Group Plant will begin processing product on Tuesday, Jan. 15, according to IFG CEO Jeremy Robinson.

“Yes sir, we are very excited to get going and will start with one line of production and 50 employees on January 15,” he said Friday. “From there, we look for rapid growth as there has been a great deal of interest in our plant from our customer base,” he said. “Our vendors are as excited as we are about getting this plant on line.”

Robinson said once the first line begins production, additional processing lines will be added. “We’ll ramp up quickly once we get going, and we’ll be at the 100 plus employee mark quickly.”

Iowa Food Group, who purchased the former Tyson Plant on the south side of the city late last year, has been in a two-month process of preparing the facility for its operation. IFG will process Iowa beef, pork, and poultry and will steadily ramp up a workforce as product demand dictates.

Robinson said the company has brought in a stellar food safety team as part of its management group which includes some local flavor, Cherokeans Jerry Menke and Matt Chase.

Robinson said IFG will process boxed product for its customers with the accent on homegrown “Iowa” beef, pork, and poultry. A major product label will be “Cherokee Packing Company.”

During Veterans Day activities in November, while in the process of aligning its management team and reviewing work applications, and despite bitter cold temperatures, officials of Cherokee’s newest business welcomed more than 100 area residents and veterans to the plant for an opportunity to honor our veterans and witness a flag raising above the main offices.

Cherokee’s VFW Color Guard and city Fire Department helped make the Open House special with a 21-gun salute and the flying of “Old Glory” from the department’s new ladder truck.

Robinson was pleased with the turnout and is excited about the future of Iowa Food Group.

“Most of our management team is in place,” he said. “The talent we’re finding is excellent. We have people coming in from Las Vegas, Atlanta and Houston. And we’ve hired several folks who were previously employed here (former Tyson Deli) who are excellent, skilled people as well.”

As some management positions move to Cherokee, there’s a local flavor to this IFG team. Two Cherokeans, Jerry Menke and Matt Chase, are members of the IFG management team. Menke, who has been involved with IFG and assisted the Cherokee Area Economic Development (CAEDC) from the start, was the former Tyson Foods plant manager, while Chase served as the Human Resource manager for Tyson here.

“The product is here in Iowa and the midwest, so this is a great fit for us. Some of our people are just tired of the big city and find Cherokee a great place to be,” added Robinson.

Robinson said the Open House was a gesture by his company to recognize our veterans and thank the community for its “tremendous support.”

“It doesn’t matter if we’re having breakfast at Carey’s or wherever we might be in the community, we get tremendous support. That means a lot.” said Robinson.

According to Robinson, the company continues to interview potential employees and will be on track for a soft start-up by mid-January. “In December we had 17 vendors coming in, and I might add these are very recognizable names in the industry.”

Robinson said his company is on track for hiring and began interviewing for labor and sanitation positions on Dec. 1.

At present, those interested in jobs at IFG should call 712-600-FOOD (3663).

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