By Christina Calloway
Golden Boy Foods’ CEO said nothing has changed in his intentions to reopen the shuttered Sunland Inc. factory, but he declined to say what his plans are or how long it will take before the plants are back to producing nut butters.
Roosevelt County Community Development Corp. Director Stan Livengood said there’s no ideal time frame when a business deal goes through bankruptcy court, but it could be a matter of months to a year before any action is seen.
“It’s hard to identify anything as being typical,” Livengood said.
Golden Boy Foods was the high bidder in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction in March, paying $26 million for the defunct peanut processor that closed down in October after failing to recover financially from a nationwide recall resulting from a salmonella outbreak tied to its products.
Golden Boy Foods CEO Richard Harris said his position from bankruptcy court proceedings stands in that he does plan to revive the plant but the company has to “do a lot of work to prepare and analyze” before reopening. He declined to say what kind of work or preparation is needed.
Golden Boy Foods specializes in selling roasted nuts, raw nuts and dried fruit, and has two other U.S. manufacturing locations in Washington and Alabama.
The anticipated return of 100-plus jobs with a reopening of the plant is what citizens and city officials have expressed is their concern. Although city officials have extended a hand to work with Golden Boy Foods, they say there has been no communication with Golden Boy Foods officials.
“I haven’t had any conversations with them,” said Portales City Manager Doug Redmond, who is looking forward to making the Canadian company a new community partner.
Redmond, who is also the former economic director of RCCDC, agreed with Livengood that there is no telling when the plant will reopen.
“It depends on the project,” Redmond said. “This one maybe a little more complex.”
Redmond added he knows Livengood has reached out to Golden Boy Foods, offering to provide any information they needed to help them get going.
Livengood said Golden Boy Foods is most likely taking its time to make improvements and modifications they see fit before reopening.
Because peanuts are a crop grown once a year and are harvested in the fall, Livengood said the company might also be waiting until the next peanut season before opening for business.
“It’s just a guess,” Livengood said.
Livengood added the plant has been considered a liability with its problems in the past, when Food and Drug Administration inspectors found samples of salmonella in 28 locations in the plant and 13 in nut butter samples in the fall of 2012.
Even though Sunland had to meet FDA requirements to reopen, Livengood said Golden Boy Foods officials may be taking extra precautions to thoroughly clean the plant before restarting production.