Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 5, 2002

– Began operations in an abandoned creamery on the banks of the Cedar River in Austin in 1891.

– Two years later, a brick building replaced the creamery at a cost of $4,500.

Over the next several decades, there were numerous facility expansions and the Austin plan became a multi-story, sprawling complex.

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It grew to such a scale that buildings were assigned numbers, eventually totaling 165.

– In 1979 construction began on a state-of-the-art replacement plant at a cost of $100 million.

The early century hay barns, ice house, cattle pens, corn crib, fir pump house and trucker's inn became history.

– The new plant was completed in 1982.

Richard L. Knowlton, then-president, chairman of the board and CEO, commented at the time, "this plant represents not only the latest in technology, but also the most significant major expansion in company history."

The project was also significant in that it symbolized the company's long-term, commitment to remaining in Austin, a decision made in spite of lower-cost options to relocate the plant.

Size of plant

– Hormel's Austin facility is the largest single-story, meat processing plant in the world.

It covers 1,089,000 square feet or the equivalent of 23 football fields and 18.5 acres.

The "plant within a plant" design incorporates four levels: basement, main floor, mezzanine and loft.

Among the state of the art features are many industry-leading ergonomics program features.The Austin flagship plant produces more than 400 products.

– On an annual basis, the Austin plant can manufacture 67 million pounds hams, 31 million pounds bacon, 8 million pounds sausage, 27 million pounds wieners and 65 million pounds SPAM luncheon meat.