Barber Foods initiating more layoffs

by Staff
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PORTLAND – Effective in December, Barber Foods will implement another round of layoffs due to changes at the company's plant on St. John Street, according to mainetoday.com. Seventy-one employees will be laid off, said David Barber, president.

Barber Foods previously laid off 82 production workers in June, several weeks after it was acquired by AdvancePierre Foods, Cincinnati. Barber Foods will still employ more than 400 production workers in Portland.

The company intends to streamline its line of fully cooked foods – which amounts to approximately 7 percent of its business – by moving production to an AdvancePierre Foods plant in Enid, Okla., Barber said. He added the change was long overdue because the oven equipment currently being used is 30 years old. Most production at the Portland plant will continue focusing on raw foods, including stuffed chicken breasts and chicken tenders.

"This is a great solution from a business perspective because we are able to transfer production of fully cooked products to a very efficient plant in Enid, Okla.," Barber said in a statement. "Unfortunately, one of the tough consequences is letting go of associates whose contributions we greatly appreciate."

Barber’s staff met with employees who will be affected by the layoffs on Oct. 10. Each affected employee was given 60 days notice of the impending layoff, and each will receive one week of severance pay for every year of service, said Mark Dvorozniak, vice president of Barber Foods brand marketing.

Workers with a broad range of experience with the company will be laid off. Most work on the production line, although some are supervisors.

The June layoffs were planned before the company was acquired by AdvancePierre; the layoffs announced Oct. 10 represent another phase in changes intended to keep the 56-year-old company competitive.

"As our competitors and customers continue to get bigger, we must improve productivity, reduce costs and enhance efficiencies," Barber said.

Barber would not rule out more layoffs in 2012, but noted that AdvancePierre is convinced that the Portland plant is an important part of its operation.

AdvancePierre will invest $5 million this year in renovations and equipment upgrades, and plans to invest another $5 million in 2012, he said.
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