Made in America: Viking Range Corp.; Revitalizing Greenwood, Miss. One Kitchen Product at a Time

Viking is helping to revitalize this town of 18,000.

ByABC News
March 1, 2011, 9:55 AM

March 2, 2011 -- Over the last decade Greenwood, Miss., a town of 18,000, has lost more than 2,000 jobs as the town's top employers took their manufacturing abroad.

"About eight years ago, we lost about three manufacturing plants due to companies leaving here and going to Mexico where they can get labor done cheaper, but Viking saved Greenwood, because Viking decided to stay here with us," said Bridgette Matthews, an employee at Viking Range Corporation who has lived in Greenwood for more than 40 years. "If Viking had left us like the other three manufacturing plants have done, Greenwood would be, it would be awful."

Viking, began making ranges in 1989 and has branched out to produce a variety of kitchen goods that include ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators. For CEO Fred Carl choosing Greenwood as the location for his company was easy.

"This is my home, it's very simple, this is where I'm from, this is my home so this is where it needed to be," said Carl. "We (Greenwood) were in a real serious state of decline ... well before the time I started the company. ... We've (Viking) been able to create jobs, and become one of the town's biggest employers, we are real serious about being a corporate citizen and giving back to the community."

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Viking's impact in the community is evident everywhere. The company's headquarters is located in the town's old opera house and in addition to its four plants and one distribution center it also runs a cooking school, a restaurant and has opened a boutique hotel and spa in an abandoned downtown building.

The company has not only revitalized Greenwood, but also come to define it.

"The business has been successful, we are a well-known brand, a high-end brand, and it gives our little town something to brag about," said Carl. "It's always good for a little town like ours to have something to brag about, so I get a big kick out of that too, and I think that's important. Community pride is just so important."

"It's a good feeling to know that it was made right here in Greenwood, Mississippi," said Matthews. "Where as a lot of people really don't know that the root is right here in Greenwood, ... it's very important to us, and we pray that we keep it right here. ... If it wasn't for Viking, Greenwood would be a ghost town."