From the smokehouses, bellies are moved through blast cells and then into the smoked belly holding cooler (pictured above prior to production beginning). 


Nuts and Bolts

Cowins is proud of the sanitary design aspects of the new plant. He pointed out that it features a clean design with almost nothing hanging from the stainless steel ceilings in the processing area and includes all LED, recessed lighting.

“There are no horizontal surfaces and almost no tubing within the facility in an effort to take a sanitary design approach on everything,” Cowins said, including electrical outlets mounted on the wall with standoffs to permit washing behind them.

During his presentation, Cowins showed photos of each of the finished processing rooms prior to equipment being moved in, including the slicing area.

“Our slice room is very large in comparison to probably any other slicing department out there, but that’s to allow for future expansion. The slicing room is built for the future as is the finished product cooler and the shipping dock—even our engine room is built for the future to add any equipment that we might need.”

The plant is equipped with a box loft and includes five shipping doors and three receiving doors. “Everybody in Missoula and Salt Lake City are so jealous,” Cowins said with a chuckle.

Four ammonia compressors are located in the engine room with space to add four more in the future. It also has a standalone wastewater treatment building.

The original price tag for the plant was expected to be about $45 million when it was first conceived in late 2014. That number has reached about $53 million as of June. Some unforeseen expenses included the cost to bring in 43,000 yds. of fill for land preparation to make the property suitable for building.

“When you make your budget you have no idea what you’re going to run into as soon as that shovel hits the dirt,” Cowins said. Other change orders added to that overage as well. Throughout the plant is chipped granite flooring, which is non-slip and non-pooling. The engineering team also had to account for additional processing equipment which was not included on the original budget number based on sales projections.