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Parent company reduces Viking workforce by 20 percent (Updated)

January 31st, 2013 1 comment

Middleby Corp. confirmed Thursday afternoon that it had laid off earlier in the day 20 percent of Viking Range’s 700 employees.

Middleby spokesperson Darcy Bretz said in an email to the Mississippi Business Journal that the cuts were made “from different job classifications across the Viking enterprise.” She said half the layoffs were employees in Greenwood, where Viking maintains its headquarters.

Calls to Viking officials in Greenwood were not immediately returned.

Illinois-based commercial cooking equipment maker Middleby announced the $380 million Viking acquisition on New Year’s Eve last year. Viking founder Fred Carl Jr. told the Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper shortly afterward that he would remain as CEO for the next several years, and that the company would maintain a substantive presence in Greenwood. Viking’s hospitality subsidiaries, including the cooking schools and The Alluvian Hotel, were part of the sale.

>> Read related post: Viking sale leaves Greenwood hanging

About two weeks ago, the Jackson advertising and brand management firm that counts Viking as a client confirmed that it had reduced its workforce while Middleby focused the range maker’s marketing efforts in-house as it examined the overall marketing budget.

The Ramey Agency president Jack Garner said then the firm would still perform external marketing functions for Viking, including a large project in Canada.

Update: Bretz confirmed Thursday night that Carl has resigned, effective immediately.

Ramey cuts workforce while new Viking owner examines marketing budget

January 21st, 2013 No comments

A decision by Middleby Corp., the Illinois-based parent company of Viking Range, to curtail the marketing budget for the high-end kitchen appliance maker has led to a Jackson ad agency reducing its number of employees.

Jack Garner, president of The Ramey Agency, said Monday afternoon that the firm specializing in brand strategy and marketing communications had recently “eliminated a number of positions,” but did not say exactly how many. Ramey’s website lists 39 employees between its Jackson headquarters and its media office in Memphis. Garner said the positions eliminated were all in the Jackson office.

Garner said Middleby told Ramey shortly after the acquisition in December that it would focus its marketing efforts in-house and limit outside expenses for Viking while its overall promotional budget was being evaluated.

“Any outside marketing for Viking will continue to come through Ramey,” Garner said in a phone interview, noting his agency was still working on a large project in Canada for the range maker.

At full strength, Viking was a substantial account, Garner said, but it was only a minority of the firm’s work. “More than 80 percent of our work is non-Viking clients,” he said. Among the clients listed on Ramey’s website are BankPlus, Entergy, University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi Development Authority.

“We are really fortunate to have a significant number of blue-chip clients. We’ve been able to enjoy steady and solid growth because of that. Dealing effectively with a cycle of changes is normal for any agency. We’ve done our best to stay nimble and ready to do whatever is needed. We are considering all opportunities for business expansion, which is an ongoing commitment, and also looking to control expenses.”

Middleby officials had not responded to phone and email messages by mid-afternoon Monday.