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Nebergall

Two employees of the D.E. Nebergall Meat Co. eat lunch as usual today just two hours after they were told the plant would be closed by March 8, 1974. Larry Robinson and Denny Jones say they usually eat in the back of the pickup truck when the weather is nice. Robinson and Jones have worked at the plant 14 and nine years, respectively.

NOTE: The following article originally ran in the Friday, Sept. 7, 1973, edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald.

After 58 years as an Albany industrial landmark, the D.E. Nebergall Meat Co. is closing its doors.

Swift and Co., of Chicago, Ill., owner of Nebergall, announced this morning it will close the east Albany plant by March 8, 1974.

The plant's employees were told today at 9 a.m. that operations will be discontinued.

"For the past few years earnings at Nebergall have been increasingly unsatisfactory and there is no indication that an improvement can be expected in the future," said Roy J. Siemsen, plant manager.

Bill Dillman, a Swift spokesman in Chicago, said union agreements provide for relocation opportunities or "substantial" severance pay for the 115 employees who will be displaced in the closure.

Swift gained control of Nebergall through a merger in 1966.

Dillman would not discuss specific reasons for the closure. But he did say Swift has been restructuring its meat and food operations for the past four years. The reorganization has involved closure of some 250 plants and sales locations across the country.

He said many of the shutdowns have closed older plants -- facilities that lack high-volume efficiency.

The Nebergall plant was founded in 1915 by D.E. Nebergall. Since then the plant has undergone numerous additions and remodelings.

Dillman denied that the current meat shortage has had anything to do with the company's decision to close the Nebergall plant.

"That is really a short-term situation," he said. "It wouldn't affect our decision."

He said the company has been scrutinizing Nebergall operations for some time -- at least since October 1972 when Siemsen was put in charge of Nebergall operations in an attempt to turn the earnings picture around.

Siemsen said that even though the plant will be closed, Nebergall brand products still will be manufactured through other Swift factories.

It has not yet been determined where the products will be manufactured.

Nebergall smoked and frozen beef and pork are distributed through Oregon and parts of Washington and California.

Dillman said no decision has yet been made about the future of the plant's equipment.

Usually, he said, equipment in a closed plant is removed and either used at other Swift facilities or sold.

In most cases of plant closure, he said, the property is turned over to National Property Development Co., a subsidiary of of GSI Inc., the insurance and financial arm of Esmark Inc.

Esmark is the parent holding company for both Swift and GSI Inc., as well as for Vickers Energy Co., which owns petroleum interests, and Estech Inc., which operates chemical plants.

The Nebergall plant was founded as a slaughterhouse operation, purchasing cattle from mid-valley farmers.

But with the Swift merger in 1966, Nebergall discontinued the killing operations and began importing carcasses from other parts of the country.

Mrs. Robert (Esther) Ferguson, partner in Nancy's Apparel of Albany and daughter of the late D.E. Nebergall, said this morning she was surprised to hear of the closure.

"It was a highly successful meat-packing plant in 1966," she said. "I don't know why Swift is closing it now."

Swift officials declined to reveal earnings figures from the plant. They also would not specify the size of the plant's payroll.

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