By The Associated Press
GREENWOOD — A Viking Range Corp. official says the high-end kitchen appliance manufacturer has become its own distributor to create closer ties to its dealers.
Bill Crump, director corporate and governmental affairs for Greenwood-based Viking, told a civic club this week that the manufacturer-to-dealer relationship is vital to the company.
“We did not have a relationship with our dealers. The dealers were kind of a customer of the distributor, and so they kind of held them close to their chest and took care of them.
“So in the last four months, we have purchased four of our distributors … This is allowing us to have a closer relationship with those dealers, we’re cutting out the middleman and we’re adding significantly to our bottom line,” Crump said.
The Middleby Corp., an Illinois food service equipment company, acquired Viking for $380 million in December. The acquisition is Middleby’s largest to date.
The Greenwood Commonwealth reports Crump said the company is slowly adding jobs back.
A month after Middleby bought Viking nearly 100 people were laid off in Greenwood and about 200 nationwide. The layoffs accompanied a streamlining of Viking’s products and the elimination of its cutlery, countertop appliances and certain elements of its hospitality division.
“We have started already manufacturing other Middleby products here in Greenwood,” said Crump. “That brings jobs, keeps jobs here in Greenwood.”
Crump said Viking first plans to hire back those people it laid off at the beginning of the year.
Crump said both The Alluvian, Viking’s boutique hotel, and Giardina’s, its upscale restaurant, are doing well and will stay in Greenwood.