Jack Simplot, the 86-year-old founder of J.R. Simplot Co., marveled at his company’s modern vegetable processing plant and greeted some of the employees at the dedication of the $32 million facility.
“I just love all of this,” Simplot said Wednesday.
“I got a shock going into that plant. Boy, is it a sight to see.”
The new processing plant will churn out 100 million pounds of frozen corn, carrots and asparagus in its first year. After that, annual capacity will jump to 180 million pounds.
There also is the possibility it will expand to process other vegetables, including peas, green beans and blanched potato products, plant manager Larry Ring said.
At capacity, the 160,000-square-foot Pasco plant will enable the Boise, Idaho-based Simplot to be the second-largest vegetable processor in the United States, said Stephen A. Beebe, president and chief executive officer.
The plant expects to employ an average of 300 workers, with as many as 500 during peak operation, and an annual payroll reaching $5 million.