What's next for Aberdeen's beef plant?Aberdeen’s beef plant has new owners, but it is yet unclear what the future holds for the big empty building on the town’s south side.
By: Aberdeen (S.D.) American News, Agweek
Aberdeen’s beef plant has new owners, but it is yet unclear what the future holds for the big empty building on the town’s south side.
Even with that uncertainty, we have to believe that new owners, no matter their expertise, offer an opportunity that wasn’t available just a couple of weeks ago.
When White Oak Global Advisors made the winning bid at the bankruptcy auction for the Northern Beef Packers plant, it wasn’t what we and many others had hoped would happen.
Jaded and beat up from years of false starts and false promises, and culminating with unpaid wages, layoffs and bankruptcy, we suggested the only workable solution to turning the plant’s fortunes around was a name-brand packing company coming in and rescuing the plant.
Of course, we learned in Sioux Falls that wasn’t going to happen.
In fact, the bankruptcy auction proved just the opposite.
Despite all promises from former Gov. Mike Rounds, the biggest packers in the U.S. didn’t see any benefit to having a plant so close to South Dakota beef — certified or not.
Despite promises that the facility was state of the art, no big company was interested in the Aberdeen plant.
And despite an estimated $115 million investment, only one company — American Foods Group of Wisconsin — made the minimum bid of $12.75 million. Even at $57 million — half the price — the beef plant would have been a steal.
But White Oak proved to be savvy, and there are already some benefits to their expected ownership.
By being the top bidder, White Oak is already taking steps to make right things that went wrong under Northern Beef. It seems, from all accounts, that people are going to be paid, and that is a great thing.
And by taking over the plant, White Oak doesn’t lose its $40 million investment into NBP. Instead, those investors have the opportunity to turn the plant around, run it or resell it.
Editor’s note: This opinion piece appeared in the Aberdeen (S.D.) American News on Dec. 11.