WEST PEORIA, Ill. — Raber Packing Company President Buddy Courdt announced Monday the company will relocate and rebuild a facility on Farmington Road, expected to open in November this year.
Courdt announced the $8 million packinghouse will utilize a new state-of-the-art design while incorporating some of Raber’s most time-honored traditions. 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 have 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.
The new facility will also host a chilled Steak ‘N Chop shop where kids still will be able to get a free cold hot dog 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.
“…We’ll be able to do everything we did and more,” Courdt said. We’ll be able to emphasize more on education and (be) able to teach our customers what we actually do and how we do it as far as how we make our own hams and how we make our own bacon.”
Courdt said he looked at several properties, but knowing the goals the company set for the future, he decided to go in another direction.
“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.”
Hein Construction will be the general contractor for the project. Hein President Ciaron Graham expects to break ground this month. Raber Packing Co. expects to employ 40 full-time union employees.
On Nov. 8, 2018, Raber Packing Co. went up in flames when a fire was sparked, igniting the roof of the building. The 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.”
West Peoria mayor, James Dillon, is welcoming the business.
“I can’t wait to see the first shovel of dirt turned here and that much closer to having Rabers back open,” he said.
Courdt says a lot of people are happy that the company is making a comeback and predicts that they will be very busy during the holiday this year.
“I do think that we will sell a lot more hams for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than in prior years,” he said.