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Sara Lee celebrates 30 years in Tarboro

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Ryan Lippert, manager of Sara Lee Frozen Products’ Tarboro plant, speaks during the company’s anniversary celebration on Sept. 25.

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sara Lee Frozen Products celebrated one year in Tarboro and 30 years’ production at the Tarboro facility at a company celebration on Sept. 25 at the plant.

In addition to recognizing that milestone, company management and local workers recognized 44 of the 64 employees who have worked at the plant since Day One.

Tarboro Plant Manager Ryan Lippert told the 44 that in addition to a plaque presented to each one, a seating area would be built using bricks inscribed with the name of every 30-year employee. He said the remaining 20 would be honored later in the year and subsequent 30-year employees would be similarly recognized.

Tarboro Mayor Joe Pitt told the crowd of about 250 that he still remembers the excitement when town officials and residents learned Sara Lee was going to build a facility in Tarboro.

“There was so much excitement when we learned you all were coming to Tarboro,” he said.

In the 30 years since the Kitchens of Sara Lee came to Edgecombe County, there have been a variety of names associated with the facility — Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean and Tyson’s — before holding company Kohlberg & Co. purchased Sara Lee’s plants in Tarboro and Traverse City, Mich., a little over a year ago.

Sara Lee Frozen Products CEO Craig Bahner told the crowd that the future is bright for the facility.

“We want to grow,” he said. “We are prepared to invest in this facility. We want to bring in new products and bring in new jobs.”

In early 2016, Hillshire Farms announced it would invest $28.4 million to upgrade and improve the Tarboro facility, creating an additional 98 jobs.

At the 30-year celebration, Bahner cut a ceremonial red-and-white cake, Sara Lee’s colors.

A plant spokesperson said the plant currently employs between 650 and 700 people.

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