Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

HyLife's expansion prompts hiring drive

Neepawa plant eyes Philippines

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With the brick and mortar in place following a major expansion, HyLife Foods in Neepawa is beginning the process of ramping up to full production and hiring 250 workers.

"It's very exciting,"àHyLife Foods' chief operating officer, Denis Vielfaure, said.

The company, which purchased the Springhill Farms hog-slaughtering plant in 2008, always intended to expand the facility's processing capacity. Now, with the addition of a second shift, HyLife will slowly begin to increase production with the goal of processing 28,000 hogs per week by the end of the year -- an increase of 10,000 from the previous capacity.

"You can't just turn a switch one day and expect to be ready; it's a slow feathering-in process,"àVielfaure said.

Part of that processàwill include hiring of 250 new people by the end of 2012, bringing the total employees at the plant to about 900. The majority of the jobs will be on the facility's cutting floor and Vielfaure said it's always challenging when looking for so many employees who will require a certain skill set.

"We've exhausted all of the local recruiting we could do and all of the regional recruiting, and the majority of the new workers are through immigration from other countries,"àVielfaure said.

While the company is willing to hire quality employees from anywhere in the world who are willing to relocate to the area, Vielfaure said HyLife Foods has had particular success recruiting workers from the Philippines.

Vielfaure said there seems to be a work ethic and community-mindedness that is inherent in the Southeast Asian country's culture.

While the new jobs will continue to drive the economic boom in the Neepawa area, it isn't without its challenges.

"The people are very welcome and we're glad they are coming here and we're thankful for HyLife's investment in our community, but it is presenting some issues for housing,"àMayor Ken Waddell said.

According to the Multiple Listing Service, there are 29 houses on the market in Neepawa through licensed real estate agents, not including private sales. Of those 29 properties, which include trailers, duplexes and houses, the prices range from $101,000 on the low end to $349,900 on the high end, with an average asking price of close to $190,000.

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2012 A16

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