Alison Freidheim, Lee Freidheim and Ed Freidheim, right, celebrate the grand opening of Cougle Foods' new business headquarters.

Poultry Processor Cougle Foods Completes Move to McKinley Park

Published October 27, 2021

Cougle Foods, one of Chicago’s oldest companies, celebrated the opening of their brand-new production, shipping and office facilities during an October 3, 2021, Oktoberfest celebration at their new headquarters at 2801 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago.

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

Cougle Foods Principal Ed Freidheim said the new site adjacent to the McKinley Park Community Area offered advantages over their previous home in Chicago’s Fulton Market, a former meat-packing area transformed with offices, restaurants and residences.

 
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

“Synergies used to be there back in the old Fulton Market,” Ed Freidheim said. “Now, they come to Cougle to get their chicken, and to [neighboring business] Anthony Marano to get their tomatoes.”

The nature trail next to Cougle Foods alongside Bubbly Creek is open to the public and features lights, signs and interpretive information.The nature trail next to Cougle Foods alongside Bubbly Creek is open to the public and features lights, signs and interpretive information.Ed Freidheim and fellow family members – a number of whom also work for Cougle Foods – led tours of the property and highlighted its features, including a refrigerated loading dock, new storage and production facilities, a logistics and customer center, and a publicly accessible nature trail along the South Branch of the Chicago River, aka Bubbly Creek.

Poultry Processing

“One unified processing room” is a big business advantage, Ed Freidheim said, allowing for more equipment and a better layout to streamline operations.

 
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, Cougle Foods is a specialty processor of poultry: receiving previously slaughtered animals and then parting them out for grocers, restaurants, caterers and other wholesale customers.

“We’re not growing or slaughtering chickens,” Ed Freidheim said. He runs Cougle Foods alongside his sister, Alison Freidheim, and their father, Lee Freidheim.

Growing Workforce

Cougle Foods principals join local elected officials and their staff, including 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, fourth from left, and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., second from right.Cougle Foods principals join local elected officials and their staff, including 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, fourth from left, and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., second from right.“It’s gorgeous,” Lee Freidheim said of the new facility and its riverside location.

Ed Freidheim said the success of their company has been tied to their workforce, including many employees who have worked with them for decades. “We have a lot of families that work here,” he said.

Right now, Cougle Foods employs just under 80 full-time workers, Ed Freidheim said, an increase from the 65 employees at the old Fulton Market location. All have access to a fully funded pension program, and health and wellness benefits that include Cougle Foods paying 100 percent of health, dental and vision premiums, he said.

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

Two unions represent workers at Cougle Foods: One for the drivers, and another for production workers. Management enjoys a good relationship with both unions and their members, Ed Freidheim said.

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

Industry Niche

Cougle Foods Principal Ed Freidheim stops on his tour of the refrigerated loading dock to preview some of the automation integrated into the new facility.Cougle Foods Principal Ed Freidheim previews some of the automation integrated into the loading dock and doors at the new facility.“We appreciate their hard work,” he said. “We want to reward them.”

Ed Freidheim said that Cougle Foods has continued to grow, despite the “great shift” in business operations caused by the pandemic. They plan to keep hiring until they hit 100 full-time workers, he said, which they hope to complete in February 2022, the one-year anniversary of the start of operations at the new headquarters.

Working in a specific niche in the meat processing industry has helped Cougle Foods weather recent business uncertainty, Ed Freidheim said, especially compared to primary meat processors and slaughterhouses.

With more wholesalers starting to come to Cougle Foods, and old customers coming back, the firm expects to see continued growth, he said.

Cougle Foods Grand Opening prep floor 20211003The new production floor at Cougle Foods at 2801 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, offers more space for equipment, workers and product.


Log In to comment on this item.
 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community