Wilcox Family Farms taps state Work Start grant to keep pace with growth
Commerce awards funding for training, technical assistance to create 20 new full-time jobs over the next three years in rural Pierce County community
OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and nonprofit small business manufacturing consultant Impact Washington, has awarded $75,000 from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund to help Wilcox Family Farms train new and current workers in lean enterprise principles and food safety.
“Growing and retaining good jobs in rural communities like Roy is critical to strengthening communities,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Work Start is an invaluable tool that allows us to do that by meeting the workforce needs of employers while investing in the training of the employees.”
Wilcox Family Farms employs 135 people and is recognized globally for its high-quality and sustainable egg production and agricultural practices, earning several awards for innovation.
Recently, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) introduced by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened regulations toward preventive controls and response planning. As a result, considerable worker and supervisor training must be integrated and adopted within food production processes.
Founded in 1909 in Roy, Wash., the family-run business has grown more than 10 percent annually in recent years, adding new lines and new employees (Wilcox is currently seeking to fill about 15 more positions). The state Work Start grant will help the company keep pace and perpetuate growth and new jobs at the Roy facility.
“As we expand our value-added product lines and add new employees to our workforce, it’s vitally important that they receive training in continuous improvement and food safety,” said Andy Wilcox, director of egg operations. “We have great employees, and the training funded by the Work Start grant makes them better while enabling us to move forward with our growth plans.”
“Wilcox Farms is one of the leaders in the food sector integrating Lean Enterprise principles into their production and administrative processes, and Impact Washington is pleased to be their partner in this journey,” noted Loren Lyon, president of Impact Washington. “This, along with their diligence in understanding and applying food safety best practices, are elements that contribute to maintaining their leadership position and facilitating growth.”
“As one of the largest employers in rural Pierce County, Wilcox Farms plays a critical role in that community’s economy by hiring residents into good jobs with good benefits,” said Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. “The Work Start grant allows the 108-year-old company to remain competitive through the use of modern, organic, and sustainable farming practices.”
Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6102