Local plant under new ownership


Staff Writer

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Tarboro plant won’t be impacted by the recent sale by its parent company to a private equity firm.

Last month, Tyson Foods Inc. entered into an undisclosed agreement to sell its Sara Lee Frozen Bakery and Van’s businesses to Kohlberg & Co., a New-York based investment management company that focuses on leveraged buyout transactions.

The sale included three facilities that consist of a total of 1,160 employees, including the Hillshire Brands Co. prepared food facility at 110 Sara Lee Road in Tarboro that has 700 workers. 

“These are great assets with outstanding team members, however, we’re focused on expanding Tyson Foods’ leadership position in protein,” said Sally Grimes, group president of Tyson Foods. “We believe these brands and facilities will do well as part of Kohlberg, which has extensive experience buying and growing businesses.”

Craig Bahner, CEO of Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, said he doesn’t expect any immediate impact on the Tarboro plant as a result of the sale of the company. Oppie Jordan, vice president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership that recruits businesses for Edgecombe County, said the Tarboro plant is known as a very productive facility.

In the past year, Hillshire Brands Co. completed an expansion project that was announced in 2016 that expanded its baking operations at the Edgecombe County plant by creating 98 jobs and investing $28 million to upgrade and improve the facility.

“We don’t expect any immediate impact on the Tarboro plant or employee job losses as a result of the sale of the company,” Bahner said. “The Tarboro plant produces high-quality food that our customers love and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. Over time, our goal is to grow the business, and that can only be good for the plant and its workers.”

Edgecombe County Manager Eric Evans said he was pleased to hear that the Tarboro food facility is going to continue as business usual. 

“We had been aware from Hillshire that they had been looking for a buyer for their facility,” he said. “When we first heard the news about them looking for a buyer, there was an immediate concern because you didn’t want someone to come in, strip it down and close down the plant. We’re glad to know that the expectations are to keep it operational.”