WESTFIELD — Less than a year after opening a $45 million expansion, Marquette County-based chicken processor Brakebush Brothers has acquired a North Carolina manufacturing facility that should employ more than 300 people in the spring.
Brakebush — which employs about 1,100 in Westfield — purchased the chicken processor House of Raeford Farms Inc. for an undisclosed amount.
The Mocksville, North Carolina, plant currently is non-operational after suffering major damage in a December fire. Once restored, the 72,000-square-foot facility is expected to accommodate three production lines for Brakebush.
“The central message is that our company continues to grow,” Brakebush Marketing Manager Steve Ross said of the acquisition. “We’re very successful, and ultimately we’ve added this to service our customers and pursue new business.”
Brakebush employs more than 1,900 people across its operations in Westfield; Irving, Texas; and Wells, Minnesota. It sells more than 200 processed chicken products, primarily to restaurants.
In the $45 million expansion completed late last year, Brakebush added about 50,000 square feet of production space in Westfield, bringing it to about 600,000 total square feet.
Its new production line created 120 jobs, though not all of them have been filled.
“From a recruitment standpoint, it’s been a challenge, as we continue to recruit people for our production facility,” said Ross, who emphasized the new acquisition would not result in any lost jobs for current employees of Brakebush.
Though the facility in North Carolina will boost Brakebush’s production capacity and gives it flexibility for moving current employees to different lines, “There’s enough work here for everybody,” Ross said.
Brakebush plans to retain many of the original employees who worked at House of Raeford Farms before the fire. No current employees of Brakebush would be moved to the facility in North Carolina, Ross said.
“What this new line does is help us produce the products where we’re tight on capacity here — products like sliced and diced chicken,” Ross said from the Westfield plant. “We needed more workers to get these products out, and so this acquisition really helps us.”