ROUND LAKE — New Fashion Pork hosted a community open house Friday evening to celebrate the opening of its new feed mill in Round Lake.

People in attendance were invited to take a tour of the facility, eat a pork chop on a stick and take home pork-themed freebies. They also got to witness owner Brad Freking perform the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Freking told the audience that the feed mill opening is the culmination of a four-year process. Although construction on the facility took only 12 months, significant time and effort was necessary to get the needed site permissions and conform to building codes. Additionally, crews battled 37 inclement weather days — with a total of 54 inches of snow and 70 inches of rain — during construction.

Freking acknowledged Weitz Contracting of Des Moines, Iowa and Interstates Construction & Control Systems out of Sioux Center, Iowa for the construction of the mill, which required a total of 45,000 man hours.

"These projects are complicated, but Weitz and Interstates made it simple," Freking said.

Freking credited feed mill manager Kevin Moore and nutritionist Chad Hastad, both from the Jackson area, with the bulk of the planning of the feed mill.

"We worked together equally," Moore said.

"I have conceptual ideals," said Hastad, "but Kevin is the guy who does it operationally." They combined their construction and numbers knowledge to come up with the best plan, they explained.

The feed mill, which is New Fashion Pork's fifth, is 155 feet tall and comprises 2,800 yards of concrete and 446,000 pounds of rebar. It will produce 150,000 tons of feed each year, Moore said. For perspective, Hastad said an average pig from birth to market will eat 600 to 750 pounds of feed.

"(The feed mill) will create a nice corn market in the area," Freking predicted. Hastad added that New Fashion Pork buys and sources from local farmers and cooperatives.

The feed mill will employ 10 people. Some of those will move over with the operations from the Worthington plant when it closes Monday, and some will be new hires.

"For this community and local farmers, it will be a real benefit," Hastad said. "We'll be here for a long time."