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IPB looks to June Tama opening

Employment Expected At 300-350 Meatpackers

January 19, 2012
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"We are going to do something special in Tama," Roy Wiggs told more than 50 noon diners at the Toledo Healthy Lifestyles site at the Community Building on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

Wiggs said Iowa Premium Beef "will be the first plant ever driven by other people's business." The plan is to provide custom cuts to order for other customers. He estimated 90 percent of Iowa Premium Beef sales will be made in the United States.

"This business plan is unique to the U.S. We will be a specialist in custom needs," Wiggs said of the company he heads. "The meat will be healthier, taste better."

Article Photos

Roy Wiggs (right) head of Iowa Premium Beef answers a question from Tama Mayor Dan Zimmerman, seated, at right with Toledo Mayor Dave Svoboda, at the Healthy Lifestyles noon meal in Toledo on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Wiggs outlined the plans to reopen the former Tama Pack to more than 50 attending the senior citizen dinner and was accompanied by Dwight Conway, IPB?cattle procurement director, Omar Vargas, the employment head and Francisco Barajas, in charge of plant maintenance. News-Herald/John Speer

He will be in charge of boxed beef sales when the plant is in operation.

Wiggs also introduced Omar Vargas, the employment head and Francisco Barajas, in charge of plant maintenance.

Wiggs formed the company four years ago to re-open the closed Tama Pack - Iowa Quality Beef meat packing plant on Tama's east side. He said Wednesday the initial financing for the project fell through in 2009 but a new group of agribusiness investors is behind it now.

The date of June 1 is now targeted by Iowa Premium Beef to have at least a "soft opening" according to Dwight Conway, an investor in the plant and its cattle procurement director, and Wiggs.

Employment Applications

Initial employment is expected to build to 300-350 meatpackers. Employment applications are expected to be taken beginning in 60 days, Wiggs said.

Conway said he expects most of the cattle supply for the plant to come from within a 150-mile radius of here. A total of 800 head is the projected daily kill when operations go into full swing.

Wiggs said some of the new workforce will be moving here from outside the area.

This prompted John Willett, a Tama attorney, to say during a question-and-answer period, "Tama and Toledo need to step it up and get rid of the slum landlords. We need to enforce building codes, regulations and zoning so people coming in can live in decent surroundings and homes."

Willett also recalled investing in the original Tama Pack "while I was in law school in 1966." The original Tama Pack opened in 1971 and ran under various ownership until the end of 1999 when it was closed by meatpacking giant IBP. The plant and adjoining property were given to the City of Tama.

Wiggs said looking to a "Phase 2" plan, the cooler capacity at the plant could be expanded to the east. If done, the kill could expand to 2,800 head a day and a second workshift would be added bringing total employment up to the 750.

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