Our Founder, William Danforth, has a quote that resonates well with me: "My memory gives me a thrill when I think of our past history. My imagination runs riot as I think of the "day after tomorrow."
This year, the Nestlé Purina factory in Crete, Nebraska, celebrates 50 years of operations. The first cans rolled off the production line in August 1965 in a 37,000 square-foot building with approximately 60 associates producing five SKUs of ALPO® dog food. Allen Products, Inc. built the Crete factory to expand its growing business into the states between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
50 years later, the factory in Crete consists of over 600,000 square-feet of buildings, approximately 460 associates and produces more than 147 varieties of cat and dog food. The plant produces between three and four million cans (about 875 tons) of pet food per day. The Crete Distribution Center ships more than 600 pet food SKUs to a wide distribution network, which includes more than 30 states and around 20 countries. Crete-made products are distributed to 50 states and internationally. The majority of the raw materials used in this factory are still sourced from the immediate region, which is one of the reasons why Allen Products looked to Nebraska for expansion.
Since 1965, associates' dedication, training and leadership have very much become part of the fabric of the Crete community, and our factory operations have led to the creation of numerous jobs and businesses within the area. As their first customer, the factory gave Crete Carrier Corporation, one of the largest trucking firms in America, its start. Duane Acklie, Chairman, Crete Carrier Corporation, stated,
"This was a godsend. This plant was a godsend to Crete and still is."
Throughout its 50-year existence, associates have continually supported community activities — on the city council, planning commission, city boards and university and state advisory committees. They have volunteered in local schools, fire departments, youth programs and civic organizations in Crete and surrounding communities.
In his comments for an interview for the 50th celebration, Kyle McGowan, Superintendent of Crete Public Schools, reiterated "When I just went down the hallway (at the factory), I know several people and talk about how their families are doing. That's what makes this business part of the community. I know there are people from Nestlé on the city council. There are people from Nestlé who are involved in every aspect of the community."
In line with Mr. Danforth's quote, we think the original decision makers and community leaders who brought the expansion of ALPO® to Crete would be "thrilled" to see the plant's past accomplishments and positive impact on the community. And, seeing how it has grown and flourished since 1965, imagine what it will be in 2065.