In this exclusive interview, we delve into the expertise that sets Carroll Daniel Construction apart in the meat and poultry industry. Witness firsthand how Director of Process Engineering Tim Easterling, whose almost three-decade career has taken him from the poultry industry to the construction sector, elevates the company’s project planning, design and construction services. This spotlight not only complements upcoming exploration of poultry plant construction, but also underscores the human element — the invaluable experts who bridge the gap between theory and execution. Consider this interview a backstage pass to the mind behind the structures, a testament to the caliber of professionals that define our Carroll Daniel Construction team, distinguishing us as industry leaders.
Q: What stands out about your journey from the poultry industry to the construction sector and how does your experience elevate your approach and Carroll Daniel Construction Company’s (CDCC) performance?
A: Nearly three decades of direct experience in the meat and poultry industry has not only trained me on the unique plant regulations and design criteria, it has also afforded me the opportunity to lead major construction and upgrade projects. These projects range from ground-up, greenfield processing plants and large expansions to process automation for improved efficiency and equipment changes. These important projects lay the groundworkfor increased volume and new product launches.
Carroll Daniel Construction has given me the unique opportunity to take the knowledge and experience gained from being on the owner’s side of the industry to offer our clients partner-like expertise on their business. We look past construction and into our client’s operations and special challenges and solve many of their challenges through our turnkey design-build process. The knowledge base we have of client facilities and their operations and the consistency of our processes — over an entire customer relationship, not just a single project — is where we provide the advantage. We gain a lot of confidence and trust with our clients because they know upfront from the initial meeting that there’s somebody on their side of things that really understands their process and is going to be looking out for their interests and discovering things in the design process that they may not have even thought of.
Long-term success with meat and poultry construction projects depends on having that industry expertise in-house. A lot of design-build companies claim to have it when they don’t. Clients recognize somebody who knows the business and someone who’s posing. They’re quickly able to distinguish my experience and background before I tell ‘em.
“All the things I complained about on the owner’s side I now have a chance to correct.”
Q: How has the concept of process engineering been applied to poultry facility construction? And how has CDCC leveraged that methodology to provide best in class services?
A: Client projects always — 100 percent of the time — focus on and begin with the development of the process. Our methodology is different than most because we are not designing a building around a customer’s process; rather we are assisting clients in developing the process along with the building design so that both are accomplished in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Working with clients to design the process or assisting them in the development of their process means CDCC is involved in the overall design of the project at its earliest stage. We’re engaged with the client from that first white sheet of paper. That way we ensure that the facility being designed meets all the requirements needed from the process.
Q: The “Human Element”: what’s most important to know about how CDCC experts bridge the gap between theory and execution in the specialized construction sector?
A: Our approach is that clients are a part of our team. We establish our operational team, project managers and field staff early on and involve them in the design phase of the project. So, when we get to the point of executing and putting a shovel in the ground, they’re already ingrained with the plant management.
From the onset of the project development phase, CDCC designers and preconstruction team work hand in hand with our project managers and field staff so that our customer’s visions and our designs are aligned with practical methodology from our operations team. This approach ensures that we not only deliver a design that meets customer expectations, but that we are also designing the most efficient and cost-effective facility. This method and teamwork also allow us to deliver projects within the tight schedules often required in the meat and poultry industry.
Q: What poultry construction project example illustrates CDCC’s process engineering and how its people go from concept/methodology to unrivaled performance in the field?
A: The poultry processing plant expansion project that we broke ground for in January 2024 is an example of CDCC’s total services capabilities.
Introduction to and consultation with the client began in 2022. After an initial visit to the plant, CDCC developed a basis of design for overall project direction. We then advised on technology options and budget range.
CDCC worked with the client through several iterations of project concepts with two automation system options until reaching a working process and building arrangements that addressed their needs and could be accomplished while keeping the existing operations running. The complete points of evaluation for the project were capital costs, schedule comparison, rolling stock cost, operational cost, animal welfare advantages, product/process quality improvements, operational efficiencies, safety improvements and technical/reliability advantages.
After performing these comparisons and presenting the data, the client was able to pick the system that was the overall best approach and solution for the long-term. Late in 2023, CDCC was selected to complete the project.
We are providing this client with a turn-key project where we design and build the process and facilities along with all the mechanical, electrical and controls for the project. From greenfield projects to the larger volume of plant addition and upgrade work, CDCC has the experience and knowledge of both operations and processes, creating an advantage in design and planning, as well as developing logistical plans and schedules that work around an operating plant that is required to always meet and maintain USDA standards.
Q: What’s on the horizon for the poultry construction sector that we should note?
A: I believe there will be continued growth for fully cooked offerings and automated lines for advanced packaging that extend shelf life and freshness for the end-user. The growth of partially cooked food-service products will also be evident as our population continues to grow and convenience in food offerings and selection options is demanded by customers.
There will be continued opportunity in retrofitting and expanding existing operations. Clients value maintaining their workforce at existing locations so expanding and improving some of those facilities should continue to be a focus for the industry.
COVID-19 taught some lessons in logistical planning and how we store and ship products around the country. We believe companies will continue looking at ways to increase their diversity in freezing and storage solutions.