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Custom Craft Poultry Opens New Little Rock Plant

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Custom Craft Poultry, which has its corporate office in Fayetteville and a plant in Batesville, opened a second plant Wednesday in Little Rock that could more than double its workforce and capacity.

The company said it has invested nearly $10 million in this expansion.

Custom Craft hired about 85 workers to open the new plant and hopes to employ up to 300 in the 125,000-SF plant over the next 12-18 months, CEO Randell Smith told Arkansas Business in an interview last week.

The company already has about 225 employees in Batesville and about eight people working from its corporate office, he said.

This new fresh poultry processing plant’s capacity will be 2.5 million to 3 million pounds per week, while the Batesville plant’s capacity is about 1.3 million pounds per week, he said.

The expansion has been in the works for about a year, but Custom Craft began renovating the former Odom’s Tennessee Pride plant at 4701 Asher Ave. in November.

The company closed on the property in March, spending $2 million, according to real estate records.

The seller was 4701 Asher Avenue LLC, led by Mark Cusumano, CEO of FW Logistics of Centreville, Illinois.

Custom Craft’s expansion has qualified for two Arkansas Economic Development Commission incentive programs: Tax Back, which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment, and three years of the Create Rebate program, which is a cash rebate based on the company’s annual payroll for new employees.

Smith said the Little Rock plant will receive raw poultry materials that have been refrigerated but not frozen. It features large incoming and outgoing coolers as well as storage space for raw poultry materials.

The catalyst for this expansion was the company’s growth; it ran out of capacity at its Batesville plant, he said. Smith attributes that growth to demand from a wide variety of industrial, retail and food service customers and Custom Craft’s relationships with those customers.

“Our growth has come from servicing customers well … and continuing to build deeper relationships with customers and in all channels of business,” he said.

Smith said having the plant in Little Rock gives the company the ability to share resources with its Batesville location and access to the raw poultry materials it needs, which are readily available.

“We’re very, very excited about being in Little Rock and expanding our business. We’re just thankful that we’re getting this opportunity and we found this location,” he said. “And we’ve got some great employees out of Little Rock already, and we’re so proud to be there.”

Custom Craft Poultry turned 6 years old on May 17. It doesn’t grow or kill poultry but does co-packing, meaning it packages poultry products for other brands. The company also does further processing, including marinating and individually freezing parts, industrial sizing and trimming and more. It provides direct and indirect services for customers and produces poultry products based on customer specifications, Smith said.

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