Southeastern Mills has been a household name around Rome for nearly 80 years.
But that’s about to change.
Corporate leadership has a new vision for the future and is in the process of rebranding itself before the end of the year.
The scope of the company has grown far beyond its southeastern roots, now a global food powerhouse. President Peter Hjort Jr. also said that the name “mills” is not really applicable anymore either since the flour processing mill in Rome is now operated by its corporate sibling Grain Craft.
“A new name is not going to necessarily mean that much to a person who buys Better than Bouillon, Louisiana Hot Sauce or a Bojangles biscuit,” Hjort said. “As much as anything it’s about the company evolving and changing. It’s making a new beginning so to speak.”
The brand name Southeastern Mills won’t be going away. Folks will still be able to get that Southeastern Mills Peppered Gravy mix and other SEM brands.
“We would never think of that going away,” Hjort said.
The new corporate name, however, will be more reflective of what the company has grown into following recent acquisitions and sales.
SEM’s Louisiana Hot Sauce is hotter than the desert sand in the Middle East while Better than Bouillon is warming up customers in Canada. Jason Marion, vice president for human resources, said the new name would break the mold of a strictly southeastern demographic which, four generations ago, was very applicable.
The company has retained consultants from WANT Branding to assist with the rebranding.
“If I go to Indiana and said I work for Southeastern Mills, they don’t know if we make socks, there’s just no food connotation,” Hjort said.
However Hjort and Marion both make it clear that the employees of the company are being consulted throughout the process.
“We want a name that is meaningful. We want a name that is interesting, that leaves us open to grow in all areas of food,” Hjort said.
They’ve already interviewed shareholders, employees and others as part of their research into the development of a new name, which Hjort believes will be chosen before the end of the year.
SEM is definitely in a growth mode. Hjort said a new Innovation Center is being opened on East Third Street and a new distribution center will be opening in the Floyd County Industrial Park this fall.
“We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire that will enable us to grow,” Hjort said. “We are very actively looking for acquisition opportunities. We are very actively working to grow existing business.”
“There are some things that we are really excited about going into 2020 that will be associated with our new name that will have a very positive impact on the community as well,” Marion said. “I know the community is going to see a very purposeful effort in how our community engages and supports Rome and Floyd County.”