Out with the old and in with the new. In 2016, Minneapolis-based Cargill made the decision to keep its Protein headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. It was at that time that construction began at the site of the former Wichita Eagle newspaper building at 825 E. Douglas in downtown Wichita. Two-plus years later, the $70 million project is complete, and Cargill is proudly showing off its new digs.
MEAT+POULTRY joined other media outlets on a sneak-peek tour of the facility two days before the company’s Dec. 6 official grand opening and ribbon cutting.
The new four-story, 188,000-sq.-ft. building replaces the previous 110,000-sq.-ft., 10-story headquarters at 151 N. Main.
On May 24, 2016, Cargill’s Protein President Brian Sikes announced the company would be keeping its Protein headquarters in Wichita, where it has been for 30 years. During the search process the company considered sites in Texas and Colorado, but ultimately opted to stay put.
“At the end of the day we decided Wichita was right for us,” Sikes said at the time of the announcement. “We didn’t choose Wichita because we thought we could survive, we chose Wichita because we thought we could thrive.”
The Cargill project is part of downtown Wichita’s revitalization efforts. The new headquarters was built with the intent of recruiting and retaining top talent to the city. The new location is centered in the heart of Old Town, surrounded by many local restaurants, shops and businesses. The facility currently houses 800 employees but has the capacity for 950.
“Cargill Protein is proud to call Wichita home. The business has deep roots and long historical ties to the community. We are long-time partners of the State of Kansas, Greater Wichita Partnership and the City of Wichita, which were instrumental in supporting and ensuring this project’s success,” Sikes said. “We want to help make Wichita the Silicon Valley of protein, bringing together the best minds, innovation and technology in the industry.”
“The new building was designed with innovation and connectivity in mind,” explained Tom Windish, president of Cargill’s Retail Channel. “Our goals of the new headquarters are to attract and retain talent; emphasize connectivity and technology; and focus on innovation.”
The building was designed with employee input through every stage of the process. Employees were looking for a more open office environment featuring ways to foster collaboration, Windish said.
The new facility features an open floor plan with collaboration spaces throughout the building. High-top tables and lounge areas both indoors and out are Wi-Fi enabled and provide employees with ample spaces to connect with each other on projects or to facilitate more casual meetings.
Cubicles are set up in four-desk pods on the outside of each floor in proximity to the windows – glass-doored offices are found in the center of each floor. Each workstation features ergonomically friendly, convertible sit-stand desks, offering the employee the choice of switching from sitting to standing throughout the day. An immersive technology conference room with video conferencing capabilities enable employees to collaborate easier and faster with colleagues in other Cargill offices around the country and globe.
An outdoor courtyard, complete with grill and firepit, provides employees with another requested amenity – access to outdoors during office hours. The courtyard also features a walking path to encourage healthy activity during the workday. The building also has employee locker rooms with showers and bike racks. Each floor also houses private wellness rooms which can be used for nursing mothers or ill employees needing to take some time to rest.
The building’s café offers food for purchase, microwave ovens, refrigerators and premium coffee as well as a 24-hour “c-store” with grab-and-go foods and beverages for purchase. The dining area, called “The Connection Place,” is also filled with tables and chairs for employees to use during lunch or break times. Break rooms on each floor also offer coffee and infused water to employees.
The presentation kitchen provides employees with a workspace to prepare and serve food for customers and visitors. The sensory center allows Cargill and its customers to conduct in-house product research, focus groups and product testing.
Additional employee feedback during the design phase of the project led the company to add amenities including a game room featuring a pool table, shuffleboard and foosball for employees to enjoy at break time. A rooftop deck is also available to all employees throughout the day. The roof boasts a view of the downtown area, couches and chairs for seating during breaktime, WiFi access, as well as charging ports.
The building was designed and constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification standards. LEED is a rating system that is intended to provide measurable goals in construction, design, operational and maintenance solutions. The project contained a number of sustainable initiatives including:
- LED light fixtures throughout the facility
- High-efficiency HVAC system
- Smart utility meters to measure and monitor consumption of electricity, gas, water, etc.
- Energy efficient exterior building glass that lets light in but reflects heat out
- Outside air ventilation systems with energy recovery features
In addition, some sustainable attributes of the project include using recycled content and reclaimed wood in the construction and design – 706,600 lbs. of recycled content and 468,400 lbs. of recyclable content was used. The company also encourages sustainability among its employees by providing recycling bins and water refill stations throughout the building.
Employees began moving into the new facility when construction was complete in October – moving in was complete by Thanksgiving.
“Our customers rely on us to bring insights to the table and anticipate what consumers need and want,” Sikes said. “This building, along with our existing Cargill Innovation Center, creates a destination for customers to tap into our expertise and experience the future of protein.”