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Published: Tuesday, 11/27/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Other bakeries could pick up Hostess drivers

Nickles official predicts boost in business, addition of posts

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Trucks are parked at the Hostess bakery outlet  in Kalamazoo Township, Mich. Trucks are parked at the Hostess bakery outlet in Kalamazoo Township, Mich.
THE KALAMAZOO GAZETTE Enlarge

Last week's closing of Hostess Brands Inc. not only will end the jobs of 250 workers at the company’s bakeries in Northwood and Defiance and three area outlet stores, it also will result in the loss of 80 jobs held by unionized drivers that distributed bread and baked goods to area grocery stores.

Chuck Collinson, a business agent with Teamsters Local 20 in Toledo, said that as a result of Hostess’ shutdown, 46 bread transport drivers, 30 sales drivers who operate small delivery trucks, and four office workers are out of a job.

“They are all laid off permanently. They’ll get unemployment benefits, and there’s a possibility someone else who steps in to fill the void could hire some of them, but that’s a long shot,” Mr. Collinson said.

Don Pountain, Toledo branch manager for Nickles Bakery of Navarre, Ohio, said his company is likely to hire some of the area drivers who delivered Hostess products.

“You always want to bring in talent. I’m sure there will always be room for good people,” Mr. Pountain said. “We’ll be adding business as a result of this.”

The Nickles manager said that although his company will be interested in delivery drivers, jobs for those who were employed at the Northwood or Defiance bakery operations might be harder to come by. Nickles’ baking operations are in Lima; Navarre, which is southwest of Canton in eastern Ohio; and Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, which is on the West Virginia border.

“Anybody interested in a baking job would probably have to relocate,” Mr. Pountain said.

Last week at a court hearing in White Plains, N.Y., Hostess won interim approval from a bankruptcy judge to shut down and take steps to sell the company’s assets after mediation with its bakers’ union failed to resolve a contract dispute, leaving more than 18,000 jobs at risk.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved Hostess’s request to close, and afterward company Chief Executive Officer Gregory Rayburn issued orders to dismiss 15,000 workers immediately so that they could start receiving unemployment benefits.

The judge could issue final approval of the bankruptcy liquidation at a hearing on Thursday.

Mr. Collinson said it will probably take a few weeks for the situation to settle down and for interested bidders to come forward and decide if they want to buy the Northwood or Defiance baking operations.

In the meantime, other bakery companies could make moves to expand and take up the available market share that Hostess held with its Wonder, Butternut, and Nature’s Pride breads, and its Hostess brand cakes, pies, and other baked goods.

Jim Sautter, owner of Sautter’s 5-Star Markets in Sylvania and Waterville, said he already was reconfiguring his store shelves and ordering additional bread from other bakeries to fill the space previously allotted to Wonder Bread.

“There’s still other bread companies out there. There’s a great demand to fill that void, and I would expect that some [Teamster drivers] will probably catch on with other bread companies because somebody’s got to fill the void that Wonder created,” Mr. Sautter said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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