'This is really good news' — Tecumseh Bonduelle plant expanding, hiring 40 more workers

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Windsor Star/Sarah Sacheli

 

In its first expansion in more than five years, vegetable processing giant Bonduelle is adding another product line to its Tecumseh plant and hiring 40 more full-time workers.

The international food processor is retooling its plant in Belvidere, Ill., and relocating its boil-in-bag vegetables line to Tecumseh, Jeff Nancekivell, Bonduelle’s director of operations for Ontario and Alberta, said Monday. To handle the work, the plant needs more machine operators, fork truck drivers and general labourers, said Patrick Persichilli, the plant’s human resources manager.

Wages for labourers start at $15 an hour and fork truck drivers and machine operators begin at $17.75 an hour or higher, depending on experience, Persichilli said.

Word of the hiring spree is spreading like wildfire, through social media and word of mouth.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” Persichilli said of the calls he was getting all weekend. Because of the response, he urges job seekers to visit the plant’s employment office at 1192 Lacasse Blvd. in person.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said he remembers that fateful summer day in July 2014 when fire ripped through the plant, the massive cloud of black smoke casting a pall over the town’s economic future. Bonduelle, still referred to in local circles as the old Green Giant plant, is not only a major employer, it sponsors community events like the Tecumseh Corn Festival. It gave the town money to build a new park pavilion and is go-to for charity food drives and other donations.

McNamara said company executives assured him at the time of the $50-million fire they planned to rebuild. The plant was back up and running in less than a week.

Apart from regular seasonal hiring that triples the plant’s year-round workforce, the 40 new hires for the new product line is the first expansion since the 2014 fire.

“Out of the ashes, the phoenix rose,” McNamara said Monday. “We’re ecstatic. This is really, really good news.”

There are 200 full-time employees at the plant. The new hires represent a 20 per cent increase in the workforce. The jobs are all permanent positions with benefits, Persichilli said.

McNamara said the spinoffs benefit family farms throughout Essex County and beyond. “That’s the really good news,” he said of the contracts Bonduelle signs with growers. “It grows the ag business in our region.”

Persichilli said the new positions will begin in March.

Bonduelle has processing plants across the globe. Tecumseh is the company’s largest plant in Canada.