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Imperial Brown celebrates $2 million month

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — About two years ago, Imperial Brown employees were promised a steak meal if they accomplished something big. The big event finally came in August when $2 million was produced in the facility in one month — the most the facility has ever produced in a single month.

Imperial Brown, a walk-in cooler and freezer manufacturer at 209 Long Meadow Drive, celebrated its achievement with an outdoor steak lunch for employees on Thursday.

Government officials were invited to celebrate with the company, including Mayor Karen Alexander and city council members, Rowan County Commissioner Judy Klusman and State Representatives Carl Ford and Harry Warren.

Also in attendance were Ed Brown and his son Paul Brown, owners of W.A. Brown & Son, which was in operation for 100 years before it was sold.

Ed Brown said he was glad the company was able to make beneficial changes.

“We’re glad to have them here in Salisbury,” he said.

Paul Brown also said the company had done a good job adjusting their products to meet current market needs.

“I see a very bright future for them,” he said.

Olivier Beillard, vice president of information technology and design, has worked for the company for 23 years.

He said in the four years since the company merged with Imperial Manufacturing, the company now has a national presence and has tripled its income.

“We have good people who have worked so many hours,” he said.

Christel Jimenez, CFO, said production is twice what it was last year, and the Salisbury facility produced 90 percent of what the Oregon plant produced last month.

“It’s just a testament to the employees we have here,” she said.

She said the company sometimes holds hotdog and burger lunches, but the steak lunch was something special for employees.

Upper management of the company, including Justin Sandall, president of the Portland, Ore., based company, and Michael Beachkofsky, vice president of sales and marketing, served the employees as they went through the food line.

Employees then enjoyed their meal under a tent in the Imperial Brown parking lot.

Nick Alexander said he and the other employees united to reach the $2 million goal.

“We all came together to make it happen,” he said.

Gladys Bell, a new employee, said she was enjoying her time at Imperial Brown. She said the $2 million achievement was “awesome.”

“I’m excited to see the new things coming in,” she said.

Robert Van Geons, executive director of RowanWorks, said Imperial Brown serves their employees and the community well.

“We’re just happy to support Imperial Brown in any way we can,” he said.

Sandall took the time to talk about how far the company has come from its beginnings in 1910.

The Salisbury facility has been through changes in management and a closure around 2009, but has bounced back stronger than ever.

“My heart swells with pride when I think about the North Carolina factory and IB’s employees there,” Sandall said in a press release. “Four years ago, I saw people, a factory and a town that was down on their luck. Dejection, uncertainty and a certain amount of despair had set in. Over the course of these four years, I have watched as, little by little, this group of people has picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, fought and won.”

He said since the merger with Imperial Manufacturing, Imperial Brown has been able to be a source of good jobs and stability for the community, and the community has in turn “welcomed us with open arms.”

The facility has added more than 80 employees and paid off all acquisition-related debt. One million dollars in equipment was invested in the factory and new products have been produced.

Sandall gives the credit to the employees.

“Our employees have shown an amazing amount of grit and determination, as they have willed this factory back into existence and made it a success,” he said.

Imperial Brown is also a 100 percent employee-owned ESOP with all employees having a stake in the company’s success.

“I think that’s a great motivator and a part of the success,” Beillard said.

Sandall said even though he came upon a company that was “broken” four years ago, they have been able to bring the company back to life.

“Today, I see the pride restored in this company, and that’s a beautiful thing,” he said to the crowd.

Sandall said he looks forward to what the next four years will bring.

“I am very excited to see what our employees are able to accomplish over the next four years,” he said in a press release. “I know that they will continue to change our company and our industry.”

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.



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