FREWSTAL was the toast of Stawell on Thursday as Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan officially opened the business’s $2.1-million expansion.
Mr Ryan said the development’s success had exceeded expectations.
“The original estimate of 50 jobs almost doubled to 98 jobs once the project was complete,” he said.
“I cannot readily think of a better $500,000 spent by our State Government in assisting business.”
He was confident Frewstal would continue to expand and thrive.
“A growth in demand from export markets continues to drive the business and the Coalition government looks forward to working with the company to deliver further expansions at the site,” he said.
Expansion features include a new freezer and chiller area, capable of storing 168 tonnes of meat.
Truck loading areas, car parking areas and site access were also upgraded.
Frewstal opened with 37 staff in 1984.
It now employs more than 420 people.
Frew Group of Companies owner and managing director Robert Frew said there was scope to employ about 30 more people in the next 18 months.
“In the next 18 months we’ll probably spend $2.5 million on building and invest another $1.5 million in equipment,” he said.
He said Frewstal’s slaughter floor, by-product rooms and server processing capacity would be upgraded in preparation for increased exports.
He said he was confident of the business obtaining a tier-two export licence, which would open up much of the Asian market.
Frewstal became a Halal-accredited site about four years ago, and started exporting under a tier-one licence, mostly to the Middle East, about three years ago.
“China’s probably the market we would be targeting with a tier-two licence,” Mr Frew said.
About half of Frewstal’s activities are devoted to exports.
The remainder provides for the domestic market.
“We probably would have struggled surviving being just domestic,” Mr Frew said.
He said he was proud of the way Frewstal was operating and its staff.
“It’s always good when you take that next step in your business to improve on what we’ve done before,” he said.
Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Kevin Erwin said Frewstal was an example of how well a business could perform with some investment, great vision and the drive to achieve it.
Council contributed $30,000 in planning support for the expansion.
Mr Ryan’s visit to the Wimmera on Thursday included community forums in Stawell and Ararat, and discussions with Ararat Rural City Council about the municipality’s sporting venues.