Allen Harim to add jobs, move headquarters to Vlasic site near Millsboro

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Allen Harim will move its corporate headquarters from Seaford to the former Vlasic pickle plant near Millsboro.

Plans also call for a chicken deboning operation at the site that will bring 165 jobs to to the state.

The company hired Delmarva Veteran Builders (DVB), Salisbury, MD., to oversee construction of the new headquarters. DVB hires primarily veterans for construction projects, and has promised the new office space should be ready for occupancy by the first quarter of 2018.

“This is an exciting time for our company, as we approach our 100th anniversary on Delmarva in 2019,” said CEO Joe Moran. “Seaford has been our home for the past century, but it’s time to look forward to the future and where this company is heading. We’ve outgrown our space in Seaford, and this location puts us closer to our processing plant in Harbeson, and our brand new hatchery in Dagsboro which should be finished by next fall. This is an ideal location that gives us an opportunity to create a more modern and efficient workspace and we look forward to the next 100 years for Allen Harim.”

The project will involve extensive interior renovations of about 20,000 square feet of space for the 50 employees who work in the company’s headquarters. Plans call for improvements to the exterior façade and the company is exploring the use of solar energy to help power at least part of the facility.

“We are honored to have been chosen to be a part of this project,” said Chris Eccleston, president of DVB and a U.S. Navy veteran. “This is another great project that will help put veterans to work, and we applaud Allen Harim’s continued investment on Delmarva and their commitment to our veterans.”

Other uses of the 460,000-square-foot building will include a consignment warehouse operation that will store boxes and other packaging materials from International Paper and other vendors that are used in the Allen Harim production process.

The company is also planning to house a deboning operation in about 50,000 square feet of the facility, where chicken that has already been processed at its Harbeson processing plant will be deboned and repackaged for customers. No additional chickens will need to be processed in Harbeson to accommodate the deboning operation.

“This is work that’s already being done outside of the state and we’re excited to be bringing that work back to Delaware,” Moran said. “We will be creating about 165 jobs in Millsboro and bringing back economic activity to our home state.”

Moran said the company is still keeping the promise it made in late 2015 to not use the plant as a slaughter facility. The deboning process uses just a fraction of the water used in a traditional slaughter plant and perhaps most importantly, the company is committed to upgrading the wastewater treatment process to provide a wastewater solution that is environmentally friendly.

“We listened to the neighbors and heard their concerns. Ultimately, we are working toward the goal of getting out of the stream,” Moran said.

In 2015, the company ran into opposition over plans for a processing plant, despite Allen Harim’s plans to clean-up water contamination in the area. Cited was a long-running problem with water quality that dated back to Vlasic’s operation of the plant. Neighbors were also concerned about truck traffic in the area.

The opposition generated concern at the time that the state and the state’s southernmost county were getting an anti-business reputation.

The move by Allen Harim was not good news for Seaford, which has seen a long-running loss of jobs at the DuPont and later Invista nylon plant. The town recently approved a right to work ordinance that was aimed at bringing jobs to the city. Right to work for laws bar unions from requiring workers they represent to pay union dues.

While western Sussex County has seen population growth, commercial development has often taken place closer to the coast.

Allen Harim spokesperson Cathy Bassett says company officials have reached out to Seaford officials regarding future uses for the headquarters site.

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