REILY: Viking sale leaves Greenwood hanging

January 3, 2013

Business

Say what you will, but the chances of Viking Range staying in Greenwood long term are very slim.

You could almost hear the moving trucks backing up to the docks during the Middleby Corp. conference call last week, explaining why the food service equipment maker had bought the Mississippi-based oven and kitchen appliance maker for $380 million.

While all the releases from Viking stressed Greenwood, and founder and chief executive officer Fred Carl Jr., said Viking will stay in Greenwood, Selim A. Bassoul, Chairman and CEO of the Illinois-based  Middleby Corporation, never mentioned Greenwood.

Bassoul did mention, 10 times by my count, emerging markets around the world, but at no time did he mention Greenwood.

One has to wonder what is in the future of Greenwood. The small Delta town has rebuilt its image in the last 10-15 years, based solely on the success of Viking as well as the emergence of The Alluvian Hotel, built by Carl and Viking.

If last week’s conference call is any indication, Middleby has no concern whatsoever for Greenwood or the people of the Mississippi Delta once Carl is out of the picture.

And the one saving grace, it appears, is that Carl, 64, has said he will remain the company’s president and chief executive officer for “probably several more years.”

Carl has always made Greenwood a priority and I suspect he will for as long as he is now allowed to.

 >> Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018

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