Meat & Livestock News

Innovative Plant Design at Simmons Foods Prioritises Worker Well-being


  • Simmons Foods’ new facility in Arkansas, designed with worker welfare in mind, marks a shift in plant design philosophy.
  • Investments in plant improvements aim to address labour shortages by making workplaces more appealing.
  • Projects by Epstein Global highlight the trend of designing processing plants that are both functional and community-friendly.

Luke Wright, the Senior Director of Engineering at Simmons Foods, embarked on the journey of designing a new processing facility with a clear vision: to avoid the pitfalls of traditional plant designs he had encountered.

His experience fueled a desire for improvement, leading to the development of a $300 million, 315,000-square-foot facility in Northwest Arkansas. This project, initiated with a focus on employee welfare, represents a significant shift in how processing plants are conceived.

The Benton County chicken plant, operational for four years, stands as a testament to Simmons’ commitment to its workforce. In an industry where labour shortages are a persistent challenge, creating an environment that is both worker-friendly and attractive is not just an act of goodwill but a strategic necessity.

Simmons Foods is at the forefront of this trend, investing heavily to enhance the workplace for its employees and to make the facility a positive landmark within the community.

Human Capital Investments

Simmons has dedicated substantial resources to improving the working conditions and external perceptions of its plants. This approach is increasingly common among protein manufacturers seeking to attract and retain talent in a competitive labour market.

Consultancy firms like Epstein Global, based in Chicago, are playing a pivotal role in this transformation. Epstein has been involved in several significant projects, including the design and construction of a pre-processing facility for Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Missouri, and the Seaboard Triumph Foods pork processing plant in Sioux City, Iowa.

These facilities not only serve their operational purposes but also contribute positively to the aesthetics of their respective communities.

Darrin McCormies, Senior Vice President and Director of Industrial Services at Epstein, emphasises the dual benefit of these projects: enhancing the work environment for employees and providing an aesthetic boost to the community.

With a background in engineering, maintenance, and operations management at Kraft Foods, McCormies brings a wealth of experience to his role at Epstein, further bridging the gap between industrial functionality and community integration.