HURRICANE – Litehouse Foods is in its second week of production and company officials are confident in the companies’ employment contribution to Washington County.
Director of Operations John Shaw said the Hurricane plant opened with two production lines and he expects to have nine production lines by July this year. Shaw said the Hurricane plant, in a few years, will likely be the largest Litehouse plant in the country.
It was previously reported that Litehouse Foods would bring more than 150 jobs to Washington County. Shaw said the company has received overwhelming interest from individuals who are interested in working for Litehouse.
By Shaw’s estimation, there are 50 current employees at the plant. Of the 50 employees, 20 are local residents while 30 are transfers from other Litehouse locations. The company expects to fill 45 additional positions with Utah residents by July.
“We should be right at 100 employees by July,” Shaw said. “And as we span into the next year we will have upwards of 150 employees by the end of the year.”
Shaw said the reason behind transferring 30 people was because the new plant not only needed growth, but the company was shifting volume from two of its Litehouse plants.
Litehouse purchased a plant last summer with the intention of acquiring its assets and equipment in the Seattle area. The acquired plant was closed and the employees were transferred to their Idaho location and some to Southern Utah.
“We needed experienced people and this was an opportunity for someone in the company to grow into a new facility,” Shaw said. “There is much to be said for experience, otherwise there is a very large training curve.”
Shaw said the company is doing a significant amount of training and will continue to do so, but experienced people were needed to get production up and running. He said the people that relocated are also contributing to the economy of Southern Utah by purchasing homes and participating in the community.
Shaw said the best thing for individuals who are interested in working for Litehouse is to go to their Hurricane location to fill out an application or drop off a resume.
“Because we’re bringing in more lines and machinery slowly like this, I know people are getting impatient only because we are not hiring as fast,” Shaw said.
Shaw went on to say that Lighthouse employees own 30 percent of the company and as a result are highly motivated because part of their retirement is tied to how well the company does.
Hurricane Mayor Tom Hirschi said he has been impressed with how Litehouse has conducted its self since taking residency in Hurricane.
“I get an email from them every week letting me know how many people they’ve interviewed and how many they’ve hired,” Hirschi said.
The mayor said although he was surprised by the number of transfers Litehouse brought into Utah, he is still confident in the great economic benefits the company brings to the city.
“We’ve already had a few of those transfers buy homes so I know this will payoff in the long run,” Hirschi said.
Copyright St. George News 2011