WEST PEORIA, Ill. – The President of Peoria’s only local farm-to-fork packinghouse has announced plans to rebuild the family business after a fire destroyed the business in November 2018.
Raber Packing Company President, Buddy Courdt, announced the company will rebuild in West Peoria. The new facility, projected to cost $8 million, will relocate near its roots to a site on Farmington Road.
On November 8, 2018, the smokehouses unknowingly sparked a fire igniting the roof of Raber Packing Company – Courdt’s family business since 1954. The four-alarm blaze, which used more than 1.4 million gallons of water, destroyed the packinghouse and damaged other parts of the business.
“After the fire, we had some tough decisions to make,” Courdt said. “Do we rebuild, or take the insurance settlement and move on to something new? We’ve owned Raber’s for more than 60 years, so we definitely wanted to rebuild if we could and that’s why we started looking for a new location.”
Despite finding several available locations, nothing suited Raber Packing Company’s needs.
“I looked at several properties, but I also know our business and the goals we have for the future,” Courdt said. “That’s why we decided to build an entirely new facility. The cost far outweighs the insurance settlement, but it will be worth it in the end to have a new place for Raber’s, and a new home for our employees, friends and customers.”
A true family affair, the new facility was designed by Courdt and his youngest brother, Brad Courdt, an industrial design engineer.
The new, specially-designed 40,000-50,000 square foot processing facility will house an expanded retail area, a larger slaughter floor, processing area and office space. The new design also will provide for the most efficient flow-through from slaughter to counter as well as incorporating new, cost-effective methods.
“We’re extremely excited about the new ways we’ll be able to provide customers with local meats,” Courdt said. “It would be hard to walk into another business in the Midwest and get the variety and quality we will have at the new Raber Packing Company.”
The new state-of-the-art design also will incorporate some of Raber’s most time-honored traditions. The new facility will host a chilled Steak ‘N Chop shop where kids still will be able to get a free cold hotdog and feature new additions, including engaging meat education play station for kids, as well as a deli where staff will be able to provide more ready-to-eat entrees.
Union affiliated Contractor Hein Construction will be the general contractor for the project. Hein President, Ciaron Graham, expects to break ground in late April or early May, “We are a family business and being able to complete the project in the time frame and the ability to mobilize a large workforce tied into us being chosen. We will be employing in peak construction about 40 construction personnel on the site,” adding, “we work really hard to keep businesses in the local community so we go above and beyond to help in anyway possible.”
The project is expected to be completed in November 2019, just in time for Raber’s smoked turkey and ham for Thanksgiving.
Raber Packing Company expects to employ 40 full time union employees once the project is completed.
West Peoria Mayor Jim Dillon, and the West Peoria City Council have been instrumental in Raber’s staying in West Peoria as other communities attempted to recruit the one of a kind meat company.
“We are excited for what this project is going to do for Raber and what it is going to bring to the neighboring businesses along the Farmington road strip,” concluded Mayor Dillon. “This is going to be a beautiful facility.”