Wrangler plant employees remembered the victims of the April 27, 2011, tornado during the distribution center’s reopening celebration Friday.
Wrangler plant employees remembered the victims of the April 27, 2011, tornado during the distribution center’s reopening celebration Friday.

Archived Story

Wrangler reopens in Hackleburg

Published 3:13pm Friday, May 3, 2013

HACKLEBURG – Employees and executives of the VF Corp. gathered with state and local officials and community members on Friday to officially re-open and dedicate the new VF Corp. Wrangler distribution center, which is something the area has looked forward to since the old distribution center was destroyed by the April 27, 2011 tornado.
“One year ago we stood on this vacant lot and were excited because of the ground breaking, and now we have this beautiful building,” plant manager Wade Hagedorn said.
“But today is also a day to celebrate the employees and their accomplishments. They’ve been through so much to get to this day.”
For months, residents of Hackleburg as well as residents from Franklin County who worked at the distribution center wondered if VF Corp. would make the decision to rebuild the facility and restore jobs to the small community.
After months of wondering, VF Corp. announced their plans to rebuild on Aug. 1, 2011, and ground was officially broken for the plant on April 27, 2012.
Tim Dye, vice-president of distribution for VF Corp. in North America, said the re-opening ceremony represented a great day for their company.
“We remember the past but today we also see the bright future that’s in front of us,” Dye said.
“We know how important this project was and is to the state the county and this town.”
Gov. Robert Bentley was also on hand for the ceremony and ribbon cutting and he said he was glad to see this project through to completion.
“We worked very hard with the people of VF to get to this day and I thank them for helping us get here,” Bentley said.
“I want to be known as the governor that helped create jobs for this state, and I’ve been asked what the most important projects are for this state, and I can tell you there is not an expansion or a new plant that I am prouder of than this one right here.
“This doesn’t just mean jobs – it’s a way of life, and it’s so important to me that your way of life can continue and even be better because of what we see here today.”
Bentley also addressed the more than 150 employees who also gathered for the ceremony.
“No company can be great without great workers and I want you to know you make the difference,” Bentley said.
“You are what makes Alabama great.”
Hagedorn also took time during the ceremony to acknowledge one of those employees who lost her life on April 27, 2011.
Linda Knight, a Franklin County resident, was still inside the building when the tornado came through Hackleburg and destroyed the distribution center.
Hagedorn said Knight was a special employee who is still missed and loved by many.
Some of the employees who were also in the building that day read the names of all the storm victims from Franklin and Marion counties before officials unveiled a memorial at the front entrance of the distribution center.
“Even though the distribution center is in Marion County, we have many workers from Franklin County as well,” Hagedorn said. “These people will never be forgotten.”

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