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Last KC meatpacking plant to close

DATE OF EVENT: Friday, Oct. 3, 1975

DATE PUBLISHED: Saturday, Oct. 4, 1975, in The Kansas City Times

Editor’s note: Kansas City once was home to the “Big Four” packinghouses, Cudahy, Armour, Swift and Wilson. The 1951 flood signaled the beginning of the end for the industry. Cudahy never reopened. Armour closed in 1965; Swift drastically cut its Kansas City operations in 1968. Wilson ended the meatpacking era for good when it closed in April 1976.

Wilson Meat-Packing Plant to Close

The Wilson & Co., Inc., plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will be closed permanently April 3, it was announced yesterday in Oklahoma City, where the meat packing and processing firm is based.

The Omaha plant also will be closed on the same date.

The Kansas City plant, which has 400 employees and has been in operation since 1893, slaughters cattle and processes pork. The Omaha plant slaughters and processes beef and pork.In the 1940s when the big four meat packers operated in the Kansas City area, Kansas City was considered second only to Chicago as the meat-packing capital of the world. A slowdown in the industry also is observable in Chicago and the stockyards there no longer handle hogs at all.

K.J. Griggy, president and chief executive officer of the Wilson company, said the plants can no longer be operated on a profitable basis. He also cited changing livestock marketing and distribution patterns and the need for the company to consolidate production in fewer and more efficient facilities as reasons for the closings.

He said the company will explore future job opportunities with employees at each plant and that disposition of the property is being studied.

“Every effort will be made to see that it is utilized in a manner that will provide industry and employment for both cities,” Griggy said.

Griggy stressed that the decision to close the plants was based on long-range planning analysis and not predicated on the short supply of hogs and subsequent lower production. Customers of Wilson’s Omaha and Kansas City, Kansas, plants would not be affected by the closings, he said, adding that the products still will be distributed in both metropolitan areas.

Wilson had its start in Kansas City in 1893 through a predecessor company, Schwarzchild and Sulzberger, then located at Osage and Adams in Kansas City, Kansas. The plant continued to expand and in 1951 moved to a newer and more modern plant at 25 S. 2nd Street.

The hog-slaughtering operations were discontinued in March and 125 persons were laid off.