Wainer & Son Sale Caught Most By Surprise [OPINION]
New Bedford's Sid Wainer & Son is changing hands. The fourth-generation family business, founded in 1914, has been acquired by the Connecticut-based The Chefs' Warehouse, Inc., a publically traded distributor of specialty food products in North America.
Sid Wainer & Son President and CEO Henry Wainer said in a statement: "The combination of The Chefs' Warehouse distribution network and quality in conjunction with Sid Wainer & Son's unique specialty ingredients and expertise in the produce industry will provide an unprecedented service for chefs," Wainer said.
"I would like to welcome the Wainer Family and the entire Sid Wainer & Son organization into our growing family of companies,” said Chef's Warehouse chairman and CEO Christopher Pappas. “This acquisition offers The Chefs’ Warehouse the opportunity to build New England’s premier specialty food company."
The acquisition is expected to generate approximately $180 million in annual net sales, according to a joint press release from both companies.
All of this is wonderful news for a locally grown company and the people who have nurtured that growth over the decades. But what impact will the sale have on New Bedford? We don't know.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell tells me he first learned of the sale by listening to news reports on WBSM. That's just wrong. While I understand the Wainer family is under no obligation to discuss its plans with the administration, once the sale was finalized municipal leaders could have been given a heads up before press releases were issued.
Sid Wainer & Son employs some 400 people, which makes it among the largest private employers in New Bedford. These are real people with real families to support. The company is also a considerable contributor to the local tax base. Any changes in the local operation could impact the local economy, which is already under stress.
The administration must now pursue discussions with the new owners to learn what if any changes will be made at their new acquisition. Perhaps the ownership change will have but a minimal effect on the local operation, if any at all. Perhaps the local operation will grow and expand. That would be wonderful.
But a little advanced notice of the sale would have been appreciated.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.