The company is adding state-of-the-art production lines and supporting plant infrastructure at the plant's northern location located in the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park to accommodate growth and to improve overall operations.
"It's a $17 million project," said Kelly Harms, plant manager. "We will be expanding with four lines and more mix-making capability." In addition to bringing the total number of product lines up to 14 for the northern location, the addition of a second mix system for the plant "positions us for future growth," he said.
The expansion will add about 70 jobs, according to Harms. In operation in Sikeston since 1979 at its south location, the plant added a north location in 1998 and presently employs 850 people between the two.
"We're proud of the plant's longstanding success and of our employees and we're glad to be part of the Sikeston community," Harms said.
This is the company's second expansion here with the first being the construction of the plant's northern location for $34 million.
"It is the biggest second investment in any plant we've done since we originally expanded the plant," Harms noted. "It's about us being in the community, being part of the community."
No additional land at the industrial park will be needed for the expansion. "The building will expand but it's still on our existing site," Harms said. "It will involve some exterior construction and a whole lot of internal construction."
These upgrades should give the plant room to grow for the next four to six years, he predicted.
Also, to meet an increasing demand for the key products produced at the plant, the facility will move to a 24 hour per day, seven day per week continuous production schedule.
"It's because of the people, good employees that work hard ... and have a can-do attitude," Harms said. The company's success depends on plants that can make the products consumers want, he said, "and our people deliver that."
Smoothing the way for the expansion was the approval of a $504,000 industrial infrastructure grant through the Missouri Department of Economic Development's Community Development Block Grant program.
The CDBG funds will be used to increase the capacity of the city's wastewater treatment facility so it can handle the increased usage when the plant's additional production lines go into operation as well as other businesses that may relocate to or expand at the industrial park.
"On behalf of Greg Steinhoff, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, I would like to thank Good Humor-Breyers for their continued investment into Sikeston's economy," said Shaun Sappenfield, project manager for the DED's business and community services division. "It has been a pleasure working with company officials as we continually strive toward creating quality jobs for Missourians."
Harms credited the city's Department of Economic Development and Board of Municipal Utilities for working hard to make both the current project and the plant's original expansion feasible for his company. "We've had a great working relationship with the BMU," he said.
"I'm very pleased that we were able to put a team together to accomplish getting this major expansion," said Ed Dust, director of the Sikeston Department of Economic Development. "People like Connie Duke of the Bootheel Regional Planning Commission and Wayne McSpadden with the BMU put a lot of hard work into making this happen."
Dust said this project demonstrates his commitment to serving existing businesses in addition to seeking new prospects as he stated when he accepted the director's job.
"It is my philosophy to take care of the people you've got first, and it will always come back and reward you," Dust said. "This is a testament of what a good community Sikeston is to do business in."
Dust said Unilever committing a $17 million investment is a great indicator for the future of the city. "To me, it is absolutely a sign that Sikeston is doing something right," he said.
Good Humor-Breyers, a subsidiary of Unilever, is one of the largest foods and consumer goods companies with operations around the world. The Sikeston facility is the company's largest operation and produces an entire range of ice cream novelties under the Breyers, Klondike, Popsicle and Good Humor brands.
Unilever North American Ice Cream, headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., is the largest manufacturer and marketer of branded packaged ice cream and frozen novelties in North America where the company operates nine manufacturing facilities and employs approximately 3,300 people.
Those who visit the Sikeston plant's northern and southern locations will soon notice a change in signage. While the logo will remain the same, the buildings will now bear the name Unilever instead of Good Humor-Breyers, Harms said.