Virginia Meats, Inc. (VMI) started in 1864 in the small town of Shipley, England, with the purchase of a crate of oranges. Founder George Morris grew up in poverty, a chimney sweep by trade. In 1864, at the age of 39, he and his wife received a small inheritance about sixty English Pounds. After paying their debts, they were left with just a tiny sum, with which George purchased a small parcel of oranges from a canal boat. He quickly took his fruit to the local open-air street markets, and from this small beginning George Morris became a thriving fruit merchant. The business thrived and soon became the Morris Wholesale Food Company having moved to Liverpool for the expansion. Having two sons Morris encouraged them both to take over the business. In 1884 the oldest son Joseph Morris began to work with his father and five years later, after leaving Oxford, his youngest son John entered the business as well. The competition between the boys for control of the operations began to take a toll on George. Hoping to retire soon and have the business grow George leapt at the opportunity to open an American branch when his younger son John came to him with the idea. John had heard that one of their imported ham vendors was opting to sell his company. Located in a small Virginia town of Littlefield the company was a successful meat exporter and growing meat supplier to American customers. Specializing in pork products, Littlefield hams began exporting their cured hams to England as a specialty food. Morris and Sons had picked the brand up to sell to places like Harrods and Fortnum and Mason, high end food purveyors because of its unique smoke flavor and salty taste. It proved to be a good seller. John had visited and worked in the factory during his summer breaks at Oxford because he loved America and the Hams. John’s proposal to his father was simple. He would move to America buy the business in Littlefield and begin to develop products for sale in America and increase the export business as well. John would oversee the division and his brother would have charge of Liverpool.
In 1890 at the age of 27 John Morris and his new wife moved to their new home Littlefield, Virginia USA. In subsequent years the Morris family grew in America with the addition of three children to John’s family and Joseph having two children.
George passed away in 1894 leaving Joseph to continue running the Liverpool concern. However, the competition in the wholesale food business was harder to beat. While the Liverpool branch was solvent, it was showing stagnant sales except for the luxury imports. In 1902 Joseph downsized the Liverpool branch and specialized in importing luxury foods. The America branch was doing very well and could absorb the change in company profile. Morris and Sons continued to prosper. At the outbreak of WWI the Company was doing well but Joseph had declining health. His one son who had just entered the business was conscripted into service and was deployed to France. Joseph took his daughter’s son-in-law into the business temporarily. One year later his son was killed at Marne. The son-in-law, Harrison Smythe, took over the branch with the consent and help of John.
During John Morris’s tenure as president of Morris and sons, the most notable development in the company’s history was the growth of its export business during World War I. Because Morris was founded in England its American branch, had long been involved in shipping pork products, especially bacon, to England. Morris had been the largest American exporter of meat products to England before the war, and the war and immediate postwar years saw continued growth. In addition, Morris also exported meat products and lard to France, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy during the war.
In the subsequent years the Company in America took over all operations and expanded through the acquisition of several local Littlefield competitors. In 1968 the brothers moved the headquarters, to Richmond because of the need for a greater labor pool. The original business stayed in Littlefield, but additional slaughter and packing operations were erected outside Richmond. In 1970 the company was slaughtering 3,000 hogs a day and employed 1,400 people.
Eager to expand the business from a regional Virginia concern the company went public in 1994 but kept the controlling stock. Determined to keep the company within the family, John’s great grandson Vance Morris took over the business in 2003 upon the death of his father. He controlled 65% of the stock with other family members owning a total of 20%.
In 2017, at the time of Vance Morris’ unexpected death, the company was slaughtering 15 million hogs annually with revenues of 2.245 billion dollars.
Current Company Vision: Bringing quality meats to family tables everywhere.
Current Mission: We believe that family and tradition matter. Virginia Meats, Inc. is a family too and because we believe that family matters, it our commitment to put only quality pork products on your kitchen table just as we would our own.
Packaged and Fresh Pork Products
Current Fact Sheet
Richmond, Virginia USA
Worldwide web address
Chief Executive Operator
12,500 (9,000 U.S.; 3,500 International)
4,750 (3,008; 1,742 international)
Processing Facilities, Richmond, VA USA; Littlefield, USA; Winston-Salem, NC USA; Liverpool, England; Sulwaki, Poland
Richmond, VA USA; Littlefield, VA USA; Frankfort, KT USA
Current Sustainability Commitments
VMI has made three major commitments to the planet ecology. First, to offer the best animal care, reduce greenhouse emissions by 23% and maintain better than USDA food safety and quality standards. Current steps to reach these goals include:
- Each applicable facility to maintain a systematic program for animal care based on the North American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide
- All live animal suppliers to be certified to National Pork Board’s (NPB) Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus)
- Complete conversion to group housing systems for pregnant sows on U.S. company-owned farms by the end of 2017
- Complete conversion to group housing systems for pregnant sows on U.S. contract farms and in joint ventures worldwide by 2022
Reduction of greenhouse emissions by 23%. Processing and reduction of plant waste through conversion to group housing for sows and use of steam sterilization processes for food production.
Food Safety and Quality:
- No incident requiring U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recalls
- Maintain Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification at all applicable facilities.
Currently there have been no FDA recalls for the last three years and inspections have been problem free.
Current Business Philosophy
As one of the largest worldwide producers of pork products it is the goal of VMI to help improve its international sales. It will now look forward two years as change in business strategy is imperative to keep growing. The need for innovation and competitive edge ideas are the focus for the next two years. Sustainability both for profit and planet is foremost in the minds of the leadership. The development of “green” friendly international delivery strategies will be a main emphasis.
Current Corporate Culture
VMI has always considered their employees to be like family. They value their input in the business and seek to empower them whenever they can. The current company culture is a hierarchical with a functional underpinning. The growth of the company and the need for structure and communication to keep the global deadlines has caused the Directors to move towards a collaborative culture. They hope that the family feel of the clan culture will not be lost hence the hybrid.
This company has a functional division structure. However, within each division is a functional structure whose make up is dependent on its purpose. For instance, if the branch is a meat packing plant where slaughter takes place than its decision-making flow will follow the jobs that are part of the slaughter and packing processes. Communication and decision making still flows from top down.
Over the next eight weeks, you will be responding to the tasks your new boss Daniel Chinn has set out for you in his onboarding program so that he may get a good idea of how you can benefit the company with your management skills. Each week you will follow the directions for the assignment and discuss them with your fellow hires so that you can develop your own best answers. This week Daniel Chinn wants to see your “big vision” of the company’s workplace and how it will profit the company going forward.
The New Virginia Meats, Inc. Workplace
At the end of the week, you as a new management hire will be asked to turn in a memo to the CEO of Virginia Meats (see corporate profile in week one content area) on the vision you have for the company’s workplace.
Brainstorming is a technique that seeks to collect a myriad of ideas about a problem in an effort to find a unique and often innovative way of handling the solution. It can also be a way of collecting information about a situation or produce feedback about a particular topic. Brainstorming works very simply with only three rules: No idea is too far fetched, all ideas are to be accepted by the group for consideration, and the ideas must focus on the topic presented for discussion not whether the idea will work or not. Obviously, many ideas will be discounted later on when constraints like budget or implementation impossibilities may block its consideration for successful implementation. However, for the purpose of this discussion focus only on suggesting ideas from the class material and research which will answer the topic under discussion. Use the following template for your memo format: Memo Format
1. By FRIDAY, complete the following:
- By FRIDAY, complete the following:
- Using the memo template prepare a memo to CEO CHINN that describes how you envision the future Virginia Meats workplace.
- How the use of automation will affect the employees and their work experience.
- The organizational structure of the company (the types of jobs and the flow of power).
- The actual work environment (physical vs. virtual) and the type of culture. Hint: how would ” the learning company theory” influence your workplace?
- The challenges anticipated to make these changes.
- The memo must contain at least three ideas related to each of the topics up for discussion (i.e. three ideas about the way automation will affect employees, three about job types and company structures, and three about the work environment). You must use course material to support your responses and APA in-text citations with a reference list.