Conagra’s Menomonie Plant Continues to Thrive
Friday, December 21, 2018
Pride. That one word describes the culture of Conagra’s Menomonie plant - pride in the quality of their raw ingredients, pride in the products they create, in the talent of their people, in the community and in their heritage. The Dunn County Conagra plant has existed on that same site for over 100 years and as Plant Manager Jeff Stevens put it, “We owe it to those that have gone before us and those who will be here long after to do what we can to ensure this plant will remain strong and be here to celebrate our 150th Anniversary in 2067.” Conagra has what it needs to achieve that goal, in part, due to its’ location in Dunn County.
The Menomonie plant is unique in that they have a working dairy that partners with about 65 local patron farmers. They receive around 600,000 pounds of raw milk every day and process that milk into various powders and liquids. Some of the powders are blended for their hot cocoa mix and some go to industrial sales. The fluid products are used to produce their puddings with a percentage sent to other Conagra Brands plants. Their Dry Packaging department then packages Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa and the Cupped Snacks department manufactures and packages puddings and gels. “Conagra has chosen to stay in Dunn County due to the plant having a unique dairy capability and outstanding work force. Our goal is for the facility to continue to earn the right to be here through excellent performance” said Stevens.
Conagra’s workforce is highly skilled and takes pride in what they do. This is evident in the quality of their products. As Stevens commented, “The greatest strengths of our internal workforce are integrity, work ethics, being subject matter experts and taking pride in what they do. At every level in the organization our culture is built around doing what is right - we have real passion for our products as customers and consumers. Our families eat and drink our products, so we are constantly striving for continuous improvement through our Conagra Performance System in order to make sure that we make quality products, do it safely and do it cost effectively. And I think there is a level of pride here in this plant that is special. Our team cares about the community, our patron farmers, the plant, our products and each other.” With a strong community driven culture, Conagra has been able to attract top local talent at all levels of the organization. “It is the people here that are our greatest assets. “
The Future of Conagra’s Menomonie Plant
Conagra has a goal of adding another product line to their Menomonie plant. “Our products are produced at a very high level of capacity utilization so we have been looking at projects to add capacity, improve throughput and ways to add additional products to the plant” said Stevens. They are also looking to continue their partnership with local farmers, CVTC and UW Stout. They rely on the university system to produce workers who have the skills to operate automated equipment at the plant. As such, they encourage the university system to continue investing in technology and trades programs.
Dunn County’s Assets are Ideal for Conagra and Other Manufacturing Companies
The assets helping to make the Menomonie Conagra plant a success – location, access to local farmers, a skilled workforce and workforce development support, are all assets that would benefit other manufacturing companies as well. Businesses who are considering relocating should contact the Dunn County EDC to learn more about what this region has to offer and with such a beautiful location, executives will find that relocating has many benefits. As Jeff Stevens put it, “I enjoy living in Menomonie and in Dunn County more than anywhere I’ve lived. My wife and I have lived in 8 different states and I think you will be hard pressed to beat the beauty of the area and the people who call the area home. It doesn’t get any better.”