1st day, 1st crew, 1st case off the line make Iowa Food Group history


By Paul Struck, Cherokee Chronicle Times (IA)

February 1, 2019


History was made in Cherokee this week when Iowa Food Group began its meat processing operations in the former Tyson Foods Plant. Showing their commitment to Cherokee, the approximately 300,000 square-foot plant was purchased for $2.35 million by IFG last fall.


Approximately 50 employees kicked off the new Cherokee enterprise as the first case of product rolled off the line into the capable hands of Plant Manager Jerry Menke and Chief of Food Safety & Quality Frank McLaughlin, both of Cherokee.


The beef, pork, poultry, and lamb processing operation had proud buttons popping for owner/operators Jeremy Robinson and Mack Zimmerman and their plant’s first day on the job.


The happy entrepreneurial spirit of the IFG workforce was on full display Wednesday when Chronicle Times photographer Denny Holton asked them all to step outside for a team photo. Ignoring the sub-zero temperatures gripping Iowa this week, the joyful IFG contingent, including Robinson and Zimmerman, readily complied and Holton’s historic photo sits atop this story today.


“We set an aggressive timeline to assemble the team, remodel the plant, and start operations,” said Zimmerman Wednesday afternoon. “We missed our projected start date by only 13 days.


“The initial feedback we have received within our industry is that reopening a 300,000 square-foot plant in 4 months is an amazing feat. Most expected the plant to take 12 to 18 months to open. We are very appreciative of our vendors, suppliers, and customers and all of their hard work. The entire team did an outstanding job and it has been a very intense work environment to complete such an accomplishment.


“We are excited to solidify our relationship with Tyson Foods. The Tyson Foods - Waterloo, IA plant was Iowa Food Group’s first supplier of raw product that we processed and shipped to one of our strong customers in Texas.”


As IFG works out the kinks and ramps up to peak production in the coming months, Robinson says the initial workforce will double...