Country Prime Meats President Peter Springmann (left) and Troy Guenther stand in front of one of the new lines which is still wrapped in plastic, waiting for more employees. Max Winkelman photos.

B.C. company struggling to find employees

The Cariboo company says it may have to look at temporary foreign workers

Country Prime Meats recently added additional processing lines but are struggling to find employees for the expanded section, meaning that for the first time they’re looking at potentially hiring temporary foreign workers, says Troy Guenther, Director of Human Resources.

“We just finished this expansion and we’re poised for [a] 30 per cent over the next year or two. Basically, you know, we’re having a hard time getting enough local applicants.”

They added one stuffing line and two packaging line with six to eight people per line, he says

“We’re in need of about anywhere from probably 15 upwards to possibly 20 more people to make this thing run.”

They’re looking to fill entry level positions right now but will need to fill others in the future as well, often promoting from within, says Guenther. He adds that there are benefits fully paid by the company after six months.

It’s the first time ever, they’re entertaining the idea of temporary foreign workers, says Guenther.

“Just because we are not getting the local interest.”

He thinks there are a number of reasons for that.

“We are located at Mile 128 so we’re quite a way from town, between Williams Lake and 100 Mile; we’re about halfway,” he says. “The younger generations just don’t have wheels … A lot of people are like well if I’ve got to spend all that money in gas to get up there then, you know, I’ll just work in town.”

They prefer to hire locally to support the local community, he says. They’re one of the biggest employers in the area outside of the mills and mines, according to Guenther, who adds they’re at about 72, which is down a little from before the wildfires.

“We lost a few people that never came back to the area.”

The new lines are automated and robotic, which makes it easier for employees, says Guenther.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says that she sincerely hopes they hire local.

“It’s a great business. It’s expanded over these years. I’ve watched it grow and grow and they’ve put a lot of investment. They have great product. They’re worldwide almost. Hopefully, locals will take an advantage of having an opportunity to work here and help support their families and that’s what we hope for.”

Once the new lines are up and running, Guenther says they’ll likely also need staff to support those lines such as cleaners and administrative staff.

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Current employees working on one of the new automated lines.

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