Fanestil Meats opens major expansion

Central Kansas processor phases out an 80-year-old building with a new 40,000-square-foot addition.
For 80 years, the processing facility for Fanestil Packing Co. has stood on the banks of the Cottonwood River, south of Emporia, Kan. Back in the day, the company slaughtered approximately 10,000 cattle and 20,000 hogs annually. Today, Fanestil Meats produces millions of pounds of fresh and cooked/smoked meat products that are sold both locally and nationally. While the company still produces its well-known Party Time Ham, the company has gone through many changes since brothers E.E. and C.L. Fanestil started the business in 1942. This month, Fanestil Meats is expanding into an entirely new processing area, setting the company up for success for years to come.

“We now, finally, have room for growth to meet our current customers' growing demands,” said Dan Smoots, owner of Fanestil Meats. He and his wife, Jan, have owned the business for the last 25 years. Sons Jon and Nate are also part of the business, with the third generation ready to come on board as well.

The company built a new 23,000-square-foot distribution facility in 2015 while using the original plant for processing, fresh meat distribution and ready-to-eat product manufacturing. The business had discontinued its slaughter capabilities in the 1970s. This month, the Smoots will cut the ribbon on a 40,000-square-foot addition to its distribution facility, which will now be the home of the company's RTE and fresh meats operations. The original plant, which opened in 1942, will be torn down next year.

Smoots says that the new facility will allow Fanestil Meats to increase its production capacity by as much as four times. “The great thing about the new facility is that we will be small enough to change on a dime and yet still handle the growing volume of specialty and niche-type items we produce,” he says. The company's products include hot dogs, bacon, sausages, hams, deli meat and a variety of holiday packages. “We will have the ability to handle more half-truck load and truck-load type orders,” he adds.

Fanestil Meats stocks its own retail store in Emporia, and it also delivers to many regional grocery stores along its truck routes. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are busy times for the company, as it ships products nationwide through its holiday catalog. It also produces many hams, turkeys and other products as part of a corporate gift box business. The company has received many awards in Kansas, and the Smoots were named as the Kansas Small Business Administration Small Business Persons of the Year in 2022. The company employs 100 “great Midwest employees with traditional work ethic,” Smoots says. He expects that number to increase as the company grows into its new space, and this new grand opening is just a start. Smoots says that the company already has plans for Phase 3 and Phase 4 expansions.

“We have designed everything with the idea of tremendous future expansion,” he says. “We consider our specialty the ability to make the finest RTE and fresh meats from the greatest beef, pork and poultry supply anywhere in the world from right here in the Midwest. Now we can increase that volume to meet demand.”

Smoots says he is open for additional revenue streams if they represent the right products and profit margins. One possibility is to construct a commercial cold storage warehouse. The company's central location and close proximity to the interstate highway system are part of Fanestil's strengths.

“We often talk to customers that have product on the West Coast and East Coast, and they wish they had just one location to distribute from in all directions. That's us, right here in the heart of the country in Small Town USA!” Smoots notes.