Schwan’s Company and Construction crews took to the air to install new climate control systems on the expanded Schwan’s Company pizza plant in Salina, Kansas. 

A helicopter was used to lift more than 50 heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) units – some of which weigh more than 17,000 pounds – onto the roof of the new facility. 

“Due to the size of both the building and the HVAC units, using a helicopter was the safest and most efficient way to install the units,” said Salina’s Senior Director of Manufacturing Chris Wiseman, adding that on smaller projects, cranes would be used.

The HVAC install is part of the 400,000-square-foot expansion to the existing pizza plant. 

Schwan’s Company, a leading food producer in the United States, announced the expansion project in August 2020. Construction on the facility began in September 2020 and will continue throughout 2022. Schwan’s expects to be making pizza in the new expansion by the end of next year. 

The expansion includes automated state-of-the-art pizza-production lines, shipping and receiving docks, and office space. The company already employs around 1,000 people at its current 550,000-square-foot production facility and distribution center in Salina. Burns & McDonnell — a 100% employee-owned engineering, architecture and construction company — is designing and building the expansion.

“We are creating a manufacturing facility that combines the very best equipment available with the most modern technology,” Wiseman said. “This expansion will be one of the most technologically advanced food manufacturing facilities in the world.”

To operate the highly automated facility with state-of-the-art production lines and equipment, Schwan’s is creating 225 full-time jobs for the Salina area. Many of these new jobs will be higher paying and require a high level of technical expertise.  

Some of the roles will include electrical controls engineers and process engineers. Experts on production, packaging and bakery operations, as well as leadership positions are also needed.  “A state-of-the-art facility with the newest equipment and most modern technology will require employees who can operate, maintain and ensure the reliability of the equipment they use each day,” Wiseman said. “These positions are unlike any other we have and Schwan’s, and unlike most in the food manufacturing industry.”

Schwan’s Company  

Based in Minnesota, Schwan’s Company is a leading U.S.-based manufacturer and marketer of quality foods offered through retail-grocery and food-service channels. Its many popular brands include Red Baron, Tony’s, Big Daddy’s, Villa Prima and Freschetta pizza, Mrs. Smith’s and Edwards desserts and Pagoda and Bibigo Asian-style foods. The company is an affiliate of global lifestyle company, CJ CheilJedang.