Uncle Ray’s Potato Chip Plant

Murphy Company designed and built the HVAC, process utilities, plumbing, and controls of a new 94,000-square-foot facility and process and packaging line that produces 4,200 lbs. of fried chips per hour, with room for 5 more lines for future production. Installations included 5 AHUs (one 10-ton; one 50-ton; two 110-ton; one 237-ton at grade level), (3) 11,000-gallon storage tanks for corn oil, and a pre-assembled wastewater treatment plant which has been noted as the “best installation seen” by the manufacturer.

The Murphy team worked for one full year to tailor the facility to the owner’s needs. Out of 36 packages proposed, the owner selected 28 for implementation. We started negotiating in August 2019 and began construction in July 2020. Because the owner and PARIC allowed us great flexibility to develop our own means and methods, we could drive efficiencies and budget controls while also accommodating requests without cost changes. A major fire at the owner’s only other plant in Detroit halted production and caused us to move up the start-up date to February 2021, shaving two full months off the schedule.

This job was completed in the middle of COVID-19, which involved daily job site testing and extra safety measures. The broad/open spaces within the building helped with social distancing! We utilized Murphy’s proven Behavioral Based Safety program whereby workers look out for themselves and their coworkers with the goal of each employee on site can return home healthy. We also held daily safety pre-planning meetings. We had one first aid (eye flush) with no other recordable safety incidents.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we held bi-weekly virtual meetings with the owner and construction team during the design phase, ensuring the final design would accommodate the owner’s needs. During the construction phase, we had weekly face-to-face meetings with PARIC. Roger Cannon, project manager, made frequent job site visits and was always on site for Wednesday meetings with the general contractor.

There wasn’t any set “boots on the ground” requirement from the owner or GC. However, Murphy Company supports and encourages a diverse and inclusive workforce in its Fab Shops as well as on all job sites. Murphy also stringently enforces all EEOC recommendations and requirements in its recruitment and hiring.

Perhaps the best “evidence” of our quality is that we didn’t have a final punch list or any rework. We pre-fabricated as much as possible to control both quality and cost. Quality checks also were part of our weekly site visits. Based on our performance, we have received a service contract from the owner to continue to do work on site.

The design was laid out in BIM, showing how all the utilities for steam, water and natural gas would work as well as the oil tanks, plumbing and wastewater treatment plant. Building on our experience with beer distributorships, we used six 24-ft. diameter ceiling fans, each providing 240,000 cfm, to provide air flow throughout instead of ductwork. The entire space is pressure controlled, with power and exhaust moving the dirtiest air out with extra filtration for food grade production.

We tracked hours weekly, with 12 skilled workforce at peak. The pipe racks were modeled and fabricated in our Fab Shop, and installed by early February, making it possible to install other equipment very quickly. The pressure was on when we were informed of the Detroit fire, causing the owner to completely halt production. Working with the owner and PARIC, we managed to shave two months off the schedule so the owner could re-start production of its product in their new facility in Missouri.

Since the job was awarded lump sum, it was up to us to manage the project efficiently. The owner allowed us great flexibility, so we were able to devise our own methods and means. Prefabricating the bulk of the job in our shop also helped us greatly to control costs.

This new Missouri plant replaces their former Detroit factory which was destroyed in a devastating fire. The new location gives them immediate access to key Midwest markets via I-70, just six miles to the south. The new plant will create 60 new jobs (at peak) in Montgomery City, MO, a rural area with a population of approximately 2,800 and limited employment opportunities.  Uncle Ray’s potato chips and snacks are sold in nearly 12,000[BP1]  locations throughout the U.S. and on Amazon.com.
[BP1]Numbers on Website indicate they are currently in 11,623 locations, including Amazon. They also ship direct.

Owner H. T. Hackney Company
Building Type New Construction
Project Size $3,900,000
Contract Type Lump Sump, Design-Build
Completion Date 2021

Murphy Team

Project Team

General Contractor: Paric Corporation

Scope of Work