Agribusiness  April 23, 2010

Pilgrim’s Pride jobs may hatch in region

GREELEY – A merger between meatpacker JBS USA and chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. could result in new executive-level jobs coming to Northern Colorado in the next few months.

The two companies announced a $2.8 billion transaction last September that resulted in JBS USA controlling 64 percent of Pilgrim’s stock. Since then, Pilgrim’s Pride has been restructuring its operations as it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and becomes incorporated into JBS.

Part of that restructuring is a projected 200-job transfer from Pilgrim’s Pittsburg, Texas, corporate headquarters to JBS USA’s corporate offices in west Greeley. Gary Rhodes, Pilgrim’s Pride spokesman, said the company doesn’t yet know exactly how many of its employees will move to Colorado – and that might mean some jobs will be filled locally.

“We don’t yet have a firm figure,” Rhodes said on April 14. “It depends on how many accept relocation to Greeley. We may have to do some hiring from the Fort Collins-Greeley area.”

Rhodes said some Pilgrim’s employees have already moved into Northern Colorado but he could not say ultimately how many would stay in Texas because of community and family ties or other factors, including trying to sell their homes in a down real estate market.

Rhodes said Pilgrim’s is planning to complete the move to Colorado by June 1.

“There have been employees who have turned down the opportunity to relocate and we probably will have to wait till June to know for certain (how many will move),” he said. “Certainly, it’s very positive news for the Greeley-Fort Collins area as we relocate jobs there.”

Real estate impact

It’s also positive news for the region’s residential real estate market. The Group Inc. Real Estate, with offices across the region, was hired by JBS to assist with the Pilgrim’s Pride employee relocation effort.

Eric Thompson, The Group’s president, said its inside track came from a previous home sale. “We have a relationship with a high-level employee at JBS and we were hired based on our performance in selling the area as a region.”

Thompson said The Group is seeing a variety of Pilgrim’s employees seeking home information. “Some people are choosing to purchase and some are choosing to rent,” he said. “What we’re finding for the most part is when people come to us they already know where they want to live. But they’re looking all over the region.”

Thompson said his company is not attempting to push one part of Northern Colorado over another. “We’re not seeing a strong bias toward one community or another,” he said.

Five of The Group’s six offices are located in Larimer County and one is located in Weld County.

In late February, Larry Burkhardt, CEO of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, and Greeley Mayor Tom Norton led a delegation of 16 Weld County representatives and State Sen. Scott Renfroe to Pittsburg to pitch to Pilgrim’s employees.

Randy Moser, a realtor with Sears Realty and president of the Greeley Area Board of Realtors, was one of those who traveled to Texas and talked about housing opportunities. Moser said it was known at that point that The Group would have the inside track on directing Pilgrim’s employees to housing information.

“That’s part of why we went down there – to let people know they had other choices,” he said. “We wanted to let them know they could buy more house over here (in Weld County). But we wanted to let them know they would be welcomed with open arms in any community.”

Weld County focus

Burkhardt said the intent of the delegation was to make certain Weld County would be strongly considered by those relocating. “It was specifically to provide information to the executives about Weld County as a place to live when they looked at opportunities up this way,” he said. “We saw this as a great opportunity to provide some potential leaders for our community.”

Burkhardt noted that all who went on the Texas visit paid their own way and he considers it money well spent. “This was a very interesting prospect for us,” he said. “It’s not unusual for an economic development organization to take advantage of an opportunity like this, but they don’t come along very often.”

And the feeling was mutual, Moser noted. “We’ve heard through the JBS grapevine that they were very appreciative that we had done that,” he said.

Burkhardt said he’s heard that Pilgrim’s employees are spreading themselves around the region as they buy their homes. Moser said he’s hoping that home sales are spread across the region. Still, he said he’d like to see the majority locate in Weld County.

“When you have a Greeley company, you certainly would like to see them live nearby,” he said.

The Group’s Thompson said having JBS USA’s corporate offices in Promontory in west Greeley opens the door for Pilgrim’s employees to settle into any number of Larimer and Weld communities.

“It’s certainly a convenient location where that building is,” he said. “So anywhere you live in the region it’s a pretty easy commute.”

GREELEY – A merger between meatpacker JBS USA and chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. could result in new executive-level jobs coming to Northern Colorado in the next few months.

The two companies announced a $2.8 billion transaction last September that resulted in JBS USA controlling 64 percent of Pilgrim’s stock. Since then, Pilgrim’s Pride has been restructuring its operations as it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and becomes incorporated into JBS.

Part of that restructuring is a projected 200-job transfer from Pilgrim’s Pittsburg, Texas, corporate headquarters to JBS USA’s corporate offices in west Greeley. Gary Rhodes, Pilgrim’s Pride spokesman, said the…

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