A federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday conditionally approved the sale of the last big parts of NORPAC, the bankrupt farmers’ cooperative in the Willamette Valley.
At least, it used to be known as NORPAC.
As part of the bankruptcy process, the once-mighty fruit and vegetable processor sold its name. Its trademarks. Its bulk inventory. Its facility in Quincy, Washington. More than 1,000 layoffs were announced at three Salem-area facilities last year, while farmers who owned the co-op braced themselves for the financial hit.
Now, a global cold storage company called Lineage Logistics has the court’s approval to buy those three former NORPAC plants for $49 million. The sale is expected to be finalized later this month, provided the status of a prior union contract gets resolved.
That doesn’t mean the plants in Salem, Brooks and Stayton will reopen as NORPAC 2.0.
Lineage has “always viewed this as a real estate transaction,” said attorney Barrett Marum at the sale hearing.
That transaction involves someone who wasn’t in court for the sale hearing: the major agribusiness entrepreneur Frank Tiegs.
Tiegs’ Oregon Potato Company agreed to buy NORPAC’s inventory and the Quincy plant, among other assets, for more than $1 million last year. Its wholly owned subsidiary PNW VEG CO., LLC, then completed the sale and is operating the Quincy plant, according to court documents.
PNW VEG CO is temporarily running NORPAC’s Salem repack plant as well, on a month-to-month lease. It plans to buy the now-shuttered Brooks facility from Lineage, after the sale, and consolidate packing and processing there.
If all goes according to plan, that would expand Tiegs’ business holdings in the Willamette Valley. The fate of the Salem and Stayton plants is less certain under Lineage ownership, though Tiegs previously told the Capital Press he planned to buy and gut the old Stayton plant as well.
Meanwhile, a further hearing to resolve the union contract issue is scheduled for January 24.
Assuming Lineage finalizes its purchase of the three Willamette Valley plants, the last big parts of NORPAC will be gone. That includes its name, which it sold to Frank Tiegs’ company during bankruptcy.
NORPAC now goes by North Pacific Canners & Packers Inc.