BANGOR, Maine — Citing competitive pressures, Garelick Farms is ending production at its Bangor facility and laying off 35 employees.
Garelick’s parent company, Texas-based Dean Foods, has decided to phase out production at the Bangor facility over the next two months and close permanently in January, Jamaison Schuler, a spokesman for Dean Foods, told the Bangor Daily News. The Bangor facility predominantly produces fluid milk, Schuler said.
Dean Foods is not closing Garelick’s distribution facility in Bangor, so the 38 employees who work there will not be affected, Schuler said.
Schuler would not offer specifics as to why the Bangor production facility is being closed, except to say the company operates “in a highly competitive marketplace” and is “looking for some efficiencies in the business” by moving production to its three remaining production plants in Franklin and Lynn, Mass., and Rensselaer, N.Y.
“From a production standpoint, we saw some opportunities to optimize our network and move that production to some of our other plants,” Schuler said.
Cathy Conlow, Bangor’s city manager, said she was disappointed to hear Garelick Farms would cease milk production in Bangor and lay off 35 employees.
“We understand the need to make tough business decisions, especially in these difficult economic times,” Conlow said in a statement. “The city is prepared to work with the affected employees and the company through this transition.”
Julie Rabinowitz, spokeswoman at the Maine Department of Labor, said late on Tuesday afternoon that she had not heard of the Garelick layoffs. If confirmed, she said the department would send its Rapid Response team, which offers assistance to workers who have lost their jobs.
When asked if affected employees would receive severance packages, Schuler said, “A majority of the affected employees are represented by a labor union, and we are in the process of negotiating those details with the union.”
A statement from Dean Foods that was read to Garelick employees in Bangor on Tuesday, and provided to the BDN by Schuler, reads: “We regret the impact that this decision will have on our employees and our community. The decision to eliminate jobs in any part of our business is never an easy one. We operate in a highly competitive marketplace, so we must run our business in the most efficient way possible.”
Schuler would not elaborate on why the Bangor production facility was being closed as opposed to facilities in other states.
The Bangor dairy production facility has been in operation since 1902. Garelick Farms purchased the plant in 1994. Suiza, which went on to become Dean Foods, purchased Garelick Farms in 1997, according to the company’s website.