POSTVILLE, IA — Most people know of Agriprocessors for a single reason – it’s the site of last year’s federal immigration raid, one of the largest in the nation’s history. But before this event, Postville was known around the country for a very different reason – kosher meat.
Newly formed Agri Star CEO Hershey Friedman recalled, “people called us up, in reality we had calls from rabbis from different parts of the United States asking what’s going to be with them, where will they get their supplies.”
Friedman decided to answer their calls. He’s taking on the daunting task of rebuilding the plant, starting with the new name. Friedman told KIMT News 3, he knows quite a bit about turning around a failing business. He’s been doing it for twenty-five years. Once he creates a successful company, he hangs on to it. Meaning he has dozens of companies around the world.
Friedman noted, “every one of them, thank god, up to date, has been a success. And we plan on making this a success also.”
Friedman’s priority is to get the beef processing facility up and running. He’s not in this to make a fortune. Instead, he’s working to help his Jewish colleagues.
“Once this place was shut down because of the raid, there became a shortage of good kosher beef in the United States,” he said.
Friedman is looking forward to getting quality kosher meat back on the market. Over the next week, kosher experts from Israel are taking a look at the plant. Friedman wants to make sure he’s producing the best product possible. He’s hoping to have Agri Star beef on the market in about a year.
But Friedman is also investing in the community.
He noted, “Postville has been devastated, pretty much destroyed. A lot of people have left, it’s dwindled. But our goal is to try to rebuild the city of Postville.”
He’s hiring local, documented workers to fill the gaps left behind by the raid, and working with Northeast Iowa Community College to develop an on-site job training program. Friedman pointed out, every job he creates at the plant, leads to several more in the community.
“You need trucking, you need fuel. You need tires. It’s all… one job creates ten additional jobs,” said Friedman.
Since the August take-over, Friedman increased employment from 325 to 385 workers. He’s planning to hire an additional 200 people, once beef processing begins.