Owner George Wooten says Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C., is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 6. The company has a new CEO, Sterling Cook, and Wooten says, “Our opportunities for growth are going to be really great." ( Courtesy Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co. )

Sterling Cook, who has served as court restructuring officer at Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C., since the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, will stay on as CEO when the company emerges from bankruptcy, which is expected to happen on Sept. 6, said owner George Wooten.

Cook has extensive financial experience and a “full range of knowledge of our industry,” including grower relations and the sales operation, Wooten said.

Moving forward, “We will definitely have some different focuses,” he added.

Wooten said that filing for bankruptcy was a “sad relief.”

“Before bankruptcy, we had been struggling,” he said.

“I didn’t know which way to go — how to make it work. Now I know which way I’m going.”

Wooten said he lost few customers as a result of the bankruptcy.

“Those who left said that they will be back,” he said.

Despite the bankruptcy setback, Wooten said he is proud of the packaging and processing innovations his company introduced over the years.

“I think our industry is better because of the things we have done,” he said.

He said he remains optimistic about the future.

“Our opportunities for growth are going to be really great,” Wooten said.



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