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Published November 17, 2009, 08:02 AM

Akey speaks on Cavendish at Rotary

Dan Akey spoke at the last Rotary meeting. A Washington State University graduate, he worked in the eastern area of Oregon and has been in the potato and onion business. Akey is the director of operations at Cavendish Farms. He said he is excited about being a part of Cavendish in Jamestown. He said he and his wife have been welcomed by the community and they appreciate North Dakota values.

Dan Akey spoke at the last Rotary meeting. A Washington State University graduate, he worked in the eastern area of Oregon and has been in the potato and onion business. Akey is the director of operations at Cavendish Farms. He said he is excited about being a part of Cavendish in Jamestown. He said he and his wife have been welcomed by the community and they appreciate North Dakota values.

Cavendish bought the operation from AVIKO in 2001. Some of Cavendish’s customers are Wendy’s, Steak and Shake and Burger King. The Cavendish organization has invested more than $30 million in improvements in its 200,000-square-foot building which sits on 150 acres, and 46,000 square feet is cold storage. It also has some storage in the Tappen, N.D., area. Currently, the plant draws potatoes from more than 17,000 acres of which 10,000 are in North Dakota. Potatoes are also from Montana, Manitoba, Canada, and Minnesota. Cavendish spends about $48 million in potato investments with those farmers.

Akey said Cavendish likes North Dakota products. He said the potatoes are good in taste and quality and the size is excellent. When the potatoes are in storage Cavendish likes to keep a high level of humidity, up to 90 percent, and it likes to keep the temperature around 45 degrees. Each day 1.7 million pounds of raw potatoes go through the plant and make up 1 million pounds of finished product. Quality and control runs 17 tests on each of its products.

Akey said Cavendish is proud of its food safety awards for cleanliness and being a well-organized plant. When the owner comes through for an inspection, if he is not pleased with the cleanliness and the way the product looks, he leaves unhappy and the plant has to take the corporate flag down. The only way the flag can fly again is when someone else from the family or the owner comes back and gives approval.

Currently, Cavendish provides $11 million annually in payroll. It has 210 full-time full-time equivalents. The average salary is $14 per hour, not including benefits. Akey said turn-over has only been 1 percent in all the years Cavendish has been operating in Jamestown. The plant has only 1.5 percent absenteeism and the average employee’s length of stay is six years.

The economic impact study by their industry showed they processed and grossed $329 million in 2005. This has a direct impact into the local community of $7 million. Cavendish pays $1.9 million for water and water fees. For every dollar Cavendish spends, it re-turns $2.79 to North Dakota.

The Nov. 10 meeting was presided over by Tom Boerger. Lyman Keim gave the invocation. Marv Tokach and Bev Kennison led the group in music. Kennison played a new piano which has recently been purchased to be used between the Buffalo City Grille and Rotary. Tim Ottmar collected numerous “Happy Dollars.”

Curt Liechty gave an update on his son, Samuel.

Guests at the meeting were National Honor Society student Breanna Martinez and Dave Hoffman, son of Larry Hoffman.

Shirley Jackson said she will send an e-mail to all members about a work day to hang the lights on the trees on Mill Hill.

Dave Smette shared a little bit about his trip and he will be sharing at a future meeting on his trip to France and surrounding countries.

Vince Gregor is in charge of today’s program. Gary Riffe will give the invocation, Gail Martin will lead the music, and Craig Hopland will be the sergeant at arms.

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