Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wilson Plant in OKC to Shut in September

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wilson Plant in OKC to Shut in September

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter The Wilson Foods Inc. meat processing plant in Oklahoma City finally lost its battle to stay alive as Doskocil Companies Inc. annouced its closing effective Sept. 30.

The plant, opened in 1911, has 300 employees, including 247 production workers and 45 salaried workers. The age of the facility, located at 2801 SW 15th St., and high production costs were cited as the reason for the shutdown.

Employees were notified of the permanent closing Thursday.

Wilson operations will be moved to other facilities in the Doskocil family, although the exact ones have not been identified, according to Kay Titchenal, spokesman.

"The plant was not cost competitive in the industry," she said. "It is an older facility, and it is not close to the raw material products."

The cost of workers compensation insurance was another factor, even though Titchenal said the rate of accidents was not higher in Oklahoma City than at other plants.

"In March the rating factor was increased so that we were paying 10 times what we pay at any other plant that we operate."

Doskocil has operational plants in eight states.

The decision came less than five months after Doskocil emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Titchenal said the company does routine evaluations on the cost of production at all its plants and said the Oklahoma City evaluation had been done within the last 30 days.

The plant makes retail sausage products, including lunch meats and smoked sausage. It was acquired by Wilson founder Thomas Wilson in 1916 and had survived tense labor relations including a 1983 strike, a hostile takeover, an attempted sell off and two bankruptcy reorganizations, one for Wilson in 1983 and for Doskocil in 1990.

Wilson was acquired by Doskocil for $238 million in a hostile takeover in 1988. The Hutchinson, Kan.-based company was primarily a maker of pizza toppings. …

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