Industry trade magazine lauds Vicksburg company

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 12, 2011

Batesville Casket Co.’s Vicksburg operation on Friday celebrated being named one of the top 10 North American manufacturing plants for 2010 by a leading industry trade publication.

The award, given by IndustryWeek Magazine, recognizes plants that are on the leading edge of efforts to increase competitiveness, enhance customer satisfaction, and create stimulating work environments.

This marks the second time the Vicksburg plant has been honored, winning in 2007 as well. Companies are eligible for the honors only once every three years. Since 1990, only one other Mississippi plant has captured this honor.

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“This award belongs to every Batesville associate,” Human Resources Manager Dale Ulbrich said to the assembled crowd of about 200 employees and guests. “This award is not to be taken lightly by any means whatsoever.”

Some past winners of the best plant title include Motorola, General Electric, Xerox and Lockheed Martin to name a few.

The Vicksburg facility is a wood processing plant that is responsible for finishing the wood before it is made into caskets in the companies North Mississippi plant in Batesville. The company is headquartered in Batesville, Ind.

“When Vicksburg won the award in 2007, I believe it was the first wood processing facility to ever win the award,” Vice President of Operations Anthony Casablanca said. “For them to win it twice back-to-back is just absolutely remarkable.

“We have just been continually amazed by the caliber of the associates that work here. These guys are all long term folks and it is just an amazing thing to have one of our plants to be recognized on a national basis.”

Also present at the award ceremony were State Senator Briggs Hopson III and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield.

“You have a group of people here that have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that they pulled together and put out great products,” Mayfield said. “I think that bodes very well for the citizens of this city and for Warren County, Mississippi. To have won this award twice in three years says just an abundance of goodness about this community and this plant in particular and I appreciate these people very much for that.”

Picking the winner takes about six months and consists of a review board chaired by the magazine’s editors. They look at areas such as quality, customer and supplier relations, employee involvement, productivity, cost containment, manufacturing flexibility and responsiveness, inventory management, environmental and safety performance, and market results.

The company has been making caskets since 1884.

Batesville has run the wood processing branch out of Vicksburg since 1975 and currently has 175 employees. The plant averages processing 18 million board feet of wood in a year and around 90,000 board feet per day.

Other companies in the top ten for 2010 include Raytheon Integrated Air Defence Center in Andover, Md., Snap-on Power Tools of Murphy, N.C. and Bunge Oakville, a food packaging plant in Ontario, Canada.