Columbia City Councilman Craig Dean has been hired as manager of operations at Synergy Food Group, LLC.
“I am so excited,” Dean said. “I have been at Amazon in Campbellsville for 21 years. I worked through all the departments there, but to be able to get back home is great. This is a really good opportunity for me. I am glad to be over here building something huge for this area. We have very big hopes.”
Dean started Dec. 1 and is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the building, the receiving, shipping and packaging in the plant. He will be the contact person for Adair County.
“Synergy food groups packs shelf stable meals for senior feeding and K-12 schools,” said Greg Durrett, managing partner for Synergy. “That will be the first production that we start in the plant in Columbia. As we ramp up the business there, we will build out coolers and freezers to do frozen meals. We thought Craig Dean would be a good fit for both of those projects.”
The company, headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tenn., is moving into the former Majestic Yachts property at 100 Westwood Way. Durrett refers to Synergy’s Columbia location as “The Boathouse.”
Dean played an integral role with the city council in working to bring Synergy to Columbia. He said the deal for the company’s move to town was complete and final before he was hired to his new position.
“They came in and worked with (Columbia Mayor) Pam (Hoots),” he said. “I told them to keep me in mind when they were hiring, but that was long after everything with the city was done.”
Durrett said they ’re already getting inquiries from potential new customers about running production for them at the new location once they build out the coolers and freezers.
“I think realistically we will probably be getting started around the first of the year,” Dean said. “A lot will depend on the construction we’re doing now. It is mainly a lot of contractor stuff right now.
“It is going to be a soft opening to get started, five to 10 people with a mix of full- and part-time. We’re prepping the building but expecting to send out product hopefully in early January while we’re waiting for the freezer to be built out and the kitchen to be built out.”
Dean said he’s excited to get things rolling as soon as possible.
“This is a totally new adventure for me. It is something I have always taken pride in to grow Columbia,” he said. “This company could be massive for this area. We’re here on the ground floor with a business that seems to be booming.
“If the trajectory continues the way it is right now, we’re going to get there very fast. I am hoping we’re on the ground floor right now of something that could change this region of Kentucky going forward.”
By Scott Wilson