FAYETTEVILLE, ILL. – Operating from what company officials referred to as the command center at Deli Star Corp.’s St. Louis Innovation Center, the Siegel family-led operations and executive team have spent the week scrambling to fulfill customers’ orders and work with local officials investigating a Jan. 11 fire that destroyed its 75,000-square-foot processing plant in Fayetteville, about 40 miles southeast of them.
According to Justin Siegel, chief executive officer of the company, his team was notified by the Fayetteville Fire Department that the plant was on fire at 10 p.m. (CT). According to media reports, the five-alarm fire was made more challenging to fight due to a shortage of water and firefighters brought in water from a nearby river to extinguish the flames.
“As local firefighters worked to put out the fire, we worked to ensure all team members from the evening cleaning crew were accounted for and safe,” Siegel said. “Thankfully, there were no injuries to report, but unfortunately, the production facility was completely destroyed by the fire.”
He expressed his gratitude to firefighters who responded to the incident and worked for hours to put out the fire. Meanwhile, Deli Star officials and local authorities are investigating what caused the fire. The company was forced into crisis mode, Siegel said, and contingency plans have included securing production capacity from alternate processing facilities in the region to fulfill commitments to long-term customers, which include further processors, national restaurant chains and some retail suppliers. Deli Star is a second-generation meat and poultry processor of deli meats, prepared foods using sous vide technology as well as sauces and a variety of value-added meats. While it is still too early to speculate about details of the company’s future operations, Siegel said the company is optimistic and grateful.
He expressed his appreciation for the internal and external support in the hours since the fire.
“On the darkest day of our company’s 34-year history, I have been overwhelmed by the support and teamwork exhibited by the Deli Star family. Overnight, in the shadows of the flames, our team organized to make sure everyone was safe.”
He also lauded the overwhelming and speedy response of other companies offering assistance in the time of need.
“We are particularly humbled by the prompt and genuine responses from our industry peers, many of whom have stepped up to help us fulfill our customers’ orders at their facilities,” Siegel said. “I truly cannot thank them enough. Their support in the face of such adversity is a reminder that at the end of the day, we share the same passion - to feed America nutritious proteins.”
This past November, Deli Star announced the groundbreaking of a new research and development facility, the 16,000-square-foot Food Discovery Center in St. Louis.