The announcement that a Viking Range sister company is coming to Greenwood — and bringing 200 jobs with it — is wonderful news.
Lynx Grills, the maker of upscale outdoor grills and kitchens, will be a nice complement to what Viking already manufactures here in the premium cooking and refrigeration residential appliance market.
The announcement, to be officially made on Friday when Gov. Phil Bryant comes for the ribbon-cutting, should be a boost to the economy in this community and to the aura around Viking as well.
After that homegrown sensation was sold more than six years ago to publicly traded Middleby Corp., the company went through a major adjustment in focus, management and staffing. Hundreds of jobs were lost — a painful but necessary move, the new owners said, to get the company’s costs more in line with its revenues, which took a hit following the Great Recession. Viking discarded some of its less profitable sidelines to concentrate on its core competencies. It brought in Middleby’s expertise in the commercial cooking arena to improve and expand on its main product lines.
The results are showing, with Viking reporting double-digit sales growth from the year before in the company’s most recent quarterly report. The relocation of Lynx from Downey, California, would further suggest that Middleby is not only bullish on its residential equipment line, of which Viking is the largest piece, but also on Leflore County as a good place to make its products.
Company officials say that initially 100 jobs will be created as Lynx ramps up to start production in September at a Viking facility that was originally constructed to make dishwashers. Most recently, the plant has been used to build Lynx-designed grills under the Viking brand. Apparently that worked well enough to bring the whole Lynx operation here and capitalize on the reported logistical advantage of being more centrally located than California.
An additional 100 people are expected to be hired at Lynx over the next five years. Adding these 200 jobs to the nearly 600 Viking has in Mississippi puts the company — with its affiliates — back on a growth path here.
Hopefully, this community can piggyback on that growth. One of the most troubling trends in recent times has been the steady loss of population in Greenwood, as families have moved away largely because of job opportunities elsewhere. The coming of Lynx is a big enough deal that it might just draw some of them back.