“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
That quote is more than valid for Great Western Products in rural Assumption, who has built a 25-plus year tradition in Christian County.
“A lot of folks do not realize that we are there,” stated Rocky Franklin, the company’s vice president, from their corporate office in Hollywood, AL. “It just looks like we’re an extension of the property in front of us.”
A quick rundown of what Great Western does
The company manufactures popcorn products, including popcorn oil and seasoning, much like the products that local and national movie theaters. Whether it is a mom-and-pop movie theater, a regional theater chain, or even the major theater players at AMC, Cinemark, and Regal, their products have a presence.
Great Western was acquired several months ago by Performance Food Group (PFG) out of Richmond, Va., and continues to operate under PFG’s Vistar subsidiary. Vistar has been predominantly known as a distributor of candy, snacks, and beverages, so expanding to popcorn appeared to be a common-sense business acquisition.
With growing market demand, they are hiring
As an attempt to boost their profile in the area, with the resurgence of market demand post-COVID, Great Western has been hiring for many open positions within the company. However, it has been a struggle, despite the COVID pandemic. The positions are available on job platforms such as ZipRecruiter and Indeed, as well as in the local media.
Great Western is holding open interviews Wednesday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. until all positions are filled.
“We are starting a serious push into manufacturing, one of the main reasons Great Western is a part of the PFG/Vistar family,” said Anna Rozenberg, corporate recruitment and HR director for Vistar. “We are a $9 billion company and falls under the Fortune 200. We offer great benefits and things of that nature.”
Expansion plans are underway, will be implemented in a few years
As a part of that acquisition, many changes are coming to the company. One of those is a significant expansion of the Assumption facility, for a number of reasons.
“There is a substantial need to expand the facility in the next few years,” said Alicia Brookman, plant administrator for the Assumption facility.
Brookman explains that with a substantial expansion of this facility, they could double the capacity of their popcorn kits to a storage capacity of over 100,000 gallons.
Other changes include pursuing new opportunities with local agriculture, pursuing local farmers to help produce the popcorn products. This would assist in doubling, possibly tripling their overall production in the near future. Additionally, Great Western is making a serious attempt to support local companies and businesses in the Assumption area.
This article was originally published in the June 16, 2021 issue of the Golden Prairie News and Blue Mound Leader.
For more local and sports news, follow Jake Leonard on Twitter @JakeLeonardWPMD and Heartland Newsfeed @HLNF_Bulletin on Twitter.
Additionally, you can follow Heartland Newsfeed on Facebook and Reddit among other platforms. You can now follow our news updates on Telegram, Flote, and MeWe.
Support independent journalism. Become a patron on Patreon for as little as $1 a month. There are other donor options as well.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.