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Champion Petfoods USA Inc. DogStar Kitchens

Shared Values, Vision Launch Long-Term Relationship.

Champion Petfoods Inc. is a worldwide leader in producing high quality, award-winning dog and cat foods. When it came time to select a partner for its first U.S. location, Champion chose Gray to design and build their new kitchens.

In Numbers

  • Auburn, KY
  • 371100 s.f.
    Square Footage
  • 14 months
Champion Petfoods USA Inc. DogStar Kitchens
Auburn, KY
371100 s.f.
14 months
"As we've built a relationship with Gray, what’s been evident to us is that they live their vision and values in every situation. We see them interacting with other companies and customers; we see their involvement in the community, and I think that further solidifies that we made a great decision and have a partner that we can work with into the future. "
Frank Burdzy, Former President and CEO

Champion Petfoods

“The design-build of DogStar Kitchens is something that we are extremely proud of, and its success would not have been possible without our partnership with Gray,” said Frank Burdzy, former president and CEO of Champion Petfoods.


Modern Food Processing at Its Best


Champion Petfoods places the utmost importance on product quality and recognized a similar commitment in Gray’s design and construction of facilities. This 371,000 s.f. operation was purpose-built from the ground up to advance Champion’s Biologically Appropriate™, Fresh Regional Ingredient, and Never Outsourced mission.


Before DogStar was complete, Champion asked Gray to add a third production line to further its mandate and keep up with growing demand in the U.S. and Latin America. The overall operation features custom-designed kitchens for the company’s award-winning dog and cat food brands, ACANA and ORIJEN.


The kitchens include state-of-the-art technology designed to optimize processes and are outfitted with a custom-built twin extruder that is the first of its kind in North America. To ensure the plant manufacturers premium quality products, DogStar is engineered and designed to meet the same food safety standards required for the manufacturing of human foods. For greater monitoring and quality assurance, Allen Bradley hardware and software systems allow all cooking data from start to finish to be displayed in real time in the kitchen control center. Clean-in-Place (CIP), an automated system which ensures the proper time, temperature, and turbulence for cleaning, is utilized throughout the operation.


The state-of-the-art DogStar kitchens were designed, constructed, and commissioned by Gray in just 14 months—from 0% design to 100% test runs of new recipes. Full production began in early January 2016. In addition to earning Safe Quality Food (SQF) and Safe Feed/Safe Food (SFSF) certifications, Champion’s new facility was awarded one of the highest food safety achievements in the world—the Global Market Program Award from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).


Following its completion, the project received honors from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) as well as Kentucky’s Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award.


Building for the Future

Grand opening of DogStar Kitchens sees Champion ready to meet growing demand.
Learn More

Sharing Our Success

Gray received two DBIA awards for its innovative design-build of Champion Petfoods’ new DogStar Kitchens. The team took home national honors in the Industrial, Process, and/or Research and Excellence in Teaming categories.

Dogstar Shines at DBIA Awards

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"We developed the WINK (Window into the Kitchen) system collaboratively with Champion. This was a first for Gray. We had never provided a turnkey, process automation scope of services to a customer. We knew it had to be purpose-built, specifically for Champion, for their application, and their kitchens, to make the best pet food in the world. "
Randolph Wilson, Senior Director, Integrated Services, Food & Beverage Market


About Gray

Gray is a fully integrated global service provider specializing in engineering, design, construction, digital, equipment manufacturing, and real estate services.