Seated in an office area at the Canidae pet food plant in Brownwood, Chief Operating Officer Wally Shaw had a message.

“Canidae is in the community,” Shaw said. “We want to make sure that people know that we’re here, that we’re a good place to work, we’re going to be adding jobs and we’re going to continue to work on this facility to make it a best-in-class facility."

Shaw’s office is in Greenwich, Conn., where Canidae’s corporate headquarters are located. At the Brownwood plant at 3101 Stephen F. Austin, Shaw was accompanied by plant manager Matthew Thomas, who recently relocated from Pennsylvania, and quality manager Mark Gumola, a recent South Carolina import, as Shaw talked about expansion plans.

The plant, which is located on nearly 10 acres, currently has 56 employees and boasts a warehouse on its property that opened in October 2018. The plant produces 40,000 to 45,000 tons of pet food annually, plant manager Thomas said.

“Our ambition is to double that in the next 12 months,” Shaw said. “We’re currently investing in additional equipment that will allow us to to do that.”

The increased output will also mean the plant will hire 10 to 20 new employees within the next nine months, Shaw said.

“What we’ve been doing is trying to invest in the capacity of the plant,” Shaw said. “Over the last probably six to nine months we’ve been investing in trying to increase the output of the facility so we can produce more pet food.

“So we’re doubling, effectively, the capacity of the plant and also just raising some of the aesthetics and improving the operation. We’re putting in concrete for the new driveways instead of the dirt that was here before. We’ve been cleaning and making it more aesthetically pleasing, putting in an employee parking lot and things like that.”

Shaw said the plant produces dry kibble, which is dry dog food and dry cat food.

Jobs at the plant include extruder and other equipment operators, packaging operators, fork lift drivers, sanitation crew, warehouse employees and office management and staff, Shaw said.

Canidae opened as the Ethos Pet Nutrition plant in April 2012 in the former Bluebonnet Feed Facility.

“We are Canidae,” Shaw said. “That’s the brand. This plant is referred to often as the Ethos plant and that’s what’s on the tower. But we are the Canidae company.

“The brand was founded in the 1990s by two gentlemen who owned their own feed store and they decided that they needed to make a better formula of pet food for their family pet, because as you know pets are part of the family.”

Ten to 20 trucks leave the Brownwood plant daily, distributing pet food to customers including Petco, PetSmart, Amazon Chewy, Tractor Supply and many large independents, Shaw said.

Ongoing projects at the plant are under way by local contractors including Tunnell Construction and Ribble Concrete, Shaw said.

“We’ve go a lot of contract work that’s coming in to do the installs of the equipment and doing a lot of the work that’s related to the equipment as well,” Shaw said. “We really want to make it a nice place to work and we want it to be aesthetically pleasing but we also want to be part of the community.

“We’re very excited. We’re growing, we’re investing quite heavily in the local community and in Brownwood, Texas. We believe in it enough to double the capacity and we’re continuing to add associates every day. We like being here in Brownwood, Texas — good place, good people, so we plan on being here for a very long time.”