The exterior of Rose Acre Farms’ new 27,000-square-foot, $5 million corporate office on Seymour’s far west side may resemble a chicken house, but you won’t find a chicken there.
What you will find is the heart of the nation’s second largest egg producing company with more than 2,100 employees and egg laying farms in seven states.
The building on 6.477 acres at 1657 W. Tipton St. features large, naturally lit open office spaces for 80 employees on both the east and west sides of the building, collaborative works areas, a boardroom and multiple conference rooms. There also is a large foyer featuring an antique Chevrolet Viking delivery truck, an antique tractor and other items related to the history of the company that dates to the 1930s.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted Thursday, followed by an open house. Employees were to begin moving in Friday morning from the corporate offices that had been located in the 200 block of West State Road 258.
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Chief Operating Officer Tony Wesner said it was a big day for the family-owned company, which also produces liquid and dried eggs and egg protein powder.
“We have three generations of the Rust family here with us,” he said. “They have been in the egg business for six decades or more. Our heritage in agriculture runs very deep. It’s what we are. It’s who we are.”
Wesner said Seymour has a great agriculture tradition, and although there is a lot of diversity in the community, agriculture still drives a lot of things in Jackson County and Seymour.
He said besides the Rust family’s commitment, there is another group of people that makes the company’s success possible — the farmers who support the company every day.
“Our success hinges on our relationship with people that are in agriculture in this county,” he said. “We use 24 million bushels of corn each year as a company and 14 to 15 million bushels of beans, so our relationship with our farmers we value a great deal as we do our relationship with our neighbors. What we do is very important to us. We help feed the world.”
Wesner said the company produces enough eggs to feed 8 million people two eggs a day through egg laying farms in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina.
Mark Whittington, a member of the company’s building committee and vice president of risk management, welcomed everyone to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Our current office was built over 40 years ago, and we’ve outgrown it by far, so we’re pretty excited to have a new home,” he said.
The present office was built in the mid-1970s and originally housed less than a dozen employees.
Over time, it was expanded and housed more than 50 employees before the move.
The company has grown to more than 2,100 employees across the nation, Whittington said.
“And it has taken a lot of personnel to support that,” he said. “Between our HR/payroll renovation that’s two doors down and our warehouse there and everybody else in Seymour, I think we will have about 100 employees inside the Seymour city limits now, so we’re pretty excited to be a part of the community and to be here as our new home.”
Whittington said the move was a long process with many starts and stops.
“Many years of thinking and finally pulling the trigger,” he said.
Whittingon thanked the Rust family for its commitment to their employees and the community along with Seymour city officials and Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., for working with the company and Force Construction.
“They hit it out of the ballpark and have a great product here,” Whittington said of the general contractor, David Force in particular. “He left his stamp inside and outside the building with his creative design.”
Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman said he was more excited about the move than company officials.
“Any time we get a company of Rose Acre’s size to come into Seymour, it’s just unbelievable,” he said. “We can’t be happier to welcome you into Seymour.”
Wesner said the move is the answer to a lot of issues besides the need for more space.
“There is a lot more room, and we won’t have to fight the White River,” he said.
A lot of employees live in Seymour, and in some years, seasonal flooding presents those employees and the company with challenges, he said.
The move to the city also provides the company with better exposure for potential employees, Wesner said.
“Eight miles out in the country, you don’t get a lot of exposure,” he said.
Although change is hard, the move is a new day for the company and provides the company with one more thing — room to grow, Wesner said.
“We’re not going to stay the same,” he said.
Number of employees;2,187;574
Laying hen capacity;24.5 million;3.1 million
Eggs per day;19.1 million;2.4 million
Annual dozens;575 million;73.3 million
Annual corn usage;22 million bushels;2.7 million
Value of corn used;$85 million;$10 million
Value of soybean meal used;$56.2 million;$7.2 million
1930s: Walter Rust, father of founder David Walter Rust, constructs the company’s first two hen houses; Rust family sells first eggs to Cincinnati buyers.
1940s: First eggs sold to produce markets.
1950s: Dave Rust begins selling eggs at the farmers market in Indianapolis and begins purchasing eggs from farmers in Jackson County to supplement the eggs from Walter Rust’s 1,000 hens and the flocks of neighbors. Land for the original office purchased and a house to candle eggs to check for fertility and pack the eggs in 1959.
1960s: Additional houses were built and the first inline facility in the country was built in 1968. That allowed eggs to be transported from the houses to production areas on conveyor belts. Egg Acres opens in 1969.
1970s: Jen Acre Egg Farm built in 1971 and Cort Acre Egg Farm built in 1977.
1980s: Newton County Egg Farm built in 1983-84; White County Egg Farm acquired in 1985; Pulaski County Egg Farm acquired in 1986; Winterset and Guthrie Center eggs farms acquired in 1989.
1990s: Stuart Egg Farm built in 1990; Lincoln County Egg Farm acquired in 1995; Johnson County Egg Farm acquired in 1997; Oconee Egg Farm acquired in 1999.
2000s: NEPCO Egg Products acquired in 2000; Donovan Egg Farm acquired in 2001 and converted to cage-free facility; Germantown and County Line egg farms acquired in 2004; Canon Egg Farm acquired in 2009.
2010s: Lone Cactus Egg Farm acquired in 2016.
For information about Rose Acre Farms, visit goodegg.com.