Sept. 28--So was anything different at Smithfield Foods Inc. on its first day as a subsidiary of a Chinese company?
Not much, except for a visit Friday from the head honchos of Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., which bought the 77-year-old company for $7.1 billion. Shuanghui officially took control of Smithfield on Thursday.
"Wan Long and Zhijun Yang are in Smithfield today, touring Smithfield's operations and meeting with managers and other employees there," Chuck Dohrenwend, a spokesman for Shuanghui, said in an email Friday.
Wan is the chairman and Zhijun the chief executive of Shuanghui, based in Hong Kong. Dohrenwend said they had a "full schedule" and did not have time for an interview.
T. Carter Williams, the mayor of Smithfield, noticed an array of tents on the company grounds. But that was unrelated to the takeover or the executives' visit, said Keira Lombardo, a spokeswoman for Smithfield.
It was employee appreciation day, where bosses and workers mingle over burgers, soda and, of course, barbecue, said Larry Doggette, president of Public Service Employees Union Local 572, which represents more than 300 Smithfield workers.
Otherwise, Williams said, "everything looked the same. ... I talked to one of the vice presidents today, and he didn't mention anything about China. It's still operating the way it always has."
Mark Lauritsen, international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International union, spoke with representatives at four Smithfield plants Friday.
"Everybody was saying it was like any other day," Lauritsen said. "Everybody went to work, killed pigs and went home."
Philip Walzer, 757-222-3864, email@example.com