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Fulton’s Birds Eye Plant To Close In December

UPDATE:  Barclay, Ritchie React To Birds Eye Closure

Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I – Pulaski) and Senator Patty Ritchie (R,C – Oswegatchie) today said they are disappointed that the owner of the Fulton Birds Eye plant has announced the company will close the plant in six months.

“I am saddened and deeply disappointed by the company’s decision to close the Fulton plant,” said Senator Ritchie. “My first concern is for the workers and their families who are directly impacted by this announcement.”

Birds Eye“While Fulton has suffered damaging blows to its manufacturing over the past few decades, we need to keep in mind that the Birds Eye plant offers a lot of advantages to any company smart enough to see the advantages the city offers,” Senator Ritchie said. “Fulton is home to an experienced work force. It is close to Central New York’s productive vegetable growers. And it is a relatively short distance from the largest concentration of consumers in America. Together we can use these assets to help market this plant.”

“This announcement is a tragedy. I’m troubled and concerned about these jobs being lost and the facility’s future,” Assemblyman Barclay said. “When Pinnacle Foods announced it was acquiring the Birds Eye Plant in December 2009, I heard from several workers who were concerned about what this would mean to their livelihoods. My office reached out to Pinnacle Foods with a letter, questioning what this would mean for the Birds Eye Processing plant and what the plans were for the facility so central to Fulton’s economy. I also welcomed a meeting with Pinnacle. Sadly, we never received a response to either request.”

Under Birds Eye, the plant saw many upgrades, including expansions that more fully automated production so that it could expand its food lines.

According to reports, about $5 million was invested in the plant under Birds Eye’s ownership.

Barclay said with these upgrades, he is hopeful the plant and property will be attractive to a prospective buyer — a buyer that will supply good-paying jobs to our region that already has a skilled workforce.

“I’ve been in touch with local officials and am working with Senator Ritchie and her office to move quickly to replace the jobs that will be lost with this closure. I will also do all I can to work through state and local agencies to see that this process is made simple for any prospective buyer,” added Barclay.

“Assemblyman Barclay and I have reached out to Lt. Governor Robert Duffy, who is leading Governor Cuomo’s economic development efforts, to urge him to bring together the full force of New York State’s job creation and preservation services, including tax credits, low cost power, business assistance and workforce development programs,” Senator Ritchie said. “This should be the newly established regional economic development council’s first priority when it is called into session. We will work with the New York State Labor Department and other agencies to assist the workforce with benefits and retraining opportunities the state provides in these cases.”

Senator Ritchie and Assemblyman Barclay said together, they have reached out to the New York Power Authority, the state Empire State Development, the Oswego County IDA, plant owner Pinnacle Foods, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward, New York Farm Bureau, Oswego County officials and others to discuss the announcement.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BELOW:

FULTON, NY – After more than 100 years in Fulton, the Birds Eye Foods plant will cease to exist at the end of the year.

Plant officials announced this morning (April 15) that the facility will close its doors for good in December.

Employees got the news at a meeting at the Fulton War Memorial.

Layoffs will start in August.

The company’s vice president called Fulton Mayor Ronald Wooward at 8:10 a.m. today to give him the news personally.

“He told me it wasn’t profitable any more for them to operate the plant here in Fulton,” the mayor told Oswego Country Today.

Fulton has been hit hard economically the past 10 years or so, he added. They have lost Nestles, Lee Memorial Hospital, and now Birds Eye, he pointed out.

The plant employs about 250 union workers and 30 management workers.

“It’s devastating. My heart goes out to those employees and their families,” Woodward said. “We will have to look at what the impact of all this is going to be financially and try to find ways so that it doesn’t hurt our taxpayers too badly.”

Congressman Bill Oweens has already been in contact with the mayor. He said there is funding available for the displaced owrkers for for job training and other assistance.

The mayor said he talked with the company vice president for 20 minutes.

“He told me this decision had nothing to do with the city of Fulton or the state. It was business decision,” the mayor explained. “Most of their vegetables come fromthe Midwest; they have millions of dollars in transportation costs. It just made more sense for them to relocate the operation to the Midwest. Nestles did the same thing.”

There have been some businesses that have expressed at least an interest, in coming to Fulton.

Woodward said he asked the vice president if the city could market the Birds Eye property.

“He said he was open to the idea (as long as it wasn’t a direct competitor),” the mayor said. “We will get back in touch with the people who’ve shown an interest in coming here.”

“I know exactly how those employees feel. I was the last person out of Nestles,” he continued. “We have to move forward, fight the fight. If we don’t, if we just give up, then shame on us.”

13 Comments

  1. Let’s not forget that the Fulton community has lost more than Nestle, Lee Memorial and now Birdseye. Fulton has lost Owen’s Brockway, Jefferson Smurfitt, Morrill Press and many small businesses in the past 10 + years. It started with Miller Brewery and the Reynolds Can plant as well as losing the company who took over the Reynolds can plant for a brief few years.

    There are thousands of us that have had to start over. Personally, I hope and pray no other factory in our area has to go through this.

    To the people at Birdseye, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. This is devastating to an already economically depressed county, one of the highest ‘countable’ unemployment rates in the nation . Remember, after unemployment runs out and before the person goes on Assistance, they are still not working but paying taxes. Struggling to salvage what they have like their homes, and their savings. Eventually, they use all that up, and only then do they get ‘counted’ again!

    It takes money to move a family. A lot of money to relocate, especially if a family has an unsellable property here, often their only true asset.

    THIS will show in around five years when even more houses are for sale, or taken over by banks. How long before Oswego County banks struggle under the foreclosure loads? But then, THEY will qualify for a bailout that the citizens do not.

    THIS is TRULY devastating. I hope the Albany politico is paying attention. Oswego County needs a ‘bail out.’ And as there are no CEOs to give themselves bonuses, the money will work for the community at large. Or do they just figure the County will be a ghost town in another quarter century?

    OR will the northeast be the THIRD WORLD by then?

  3. Though the Birdseye management would not say it, I will. New York State is again losing jobs to their high taxes. This time because they have taxed farmers out of business over the years. With no local farms to supply Birdseye, why would they stick around. With fewer and fewer local farms and gas prices rising, bringing food from out of state is going to cost New York State citizens more and more. Yet our politicians continue to rise tax and fees for everything. Wake up New York!

  4. The birds eye workers had it good for awhile now youll have to travel some where else union brothers /Aways looking down on non union people / Cant do that anymore (GOOD)

  5. When will our political leaders wake up and see the light. It is simply not enough to try to salvage or save jobs after the fact. We can not rush in and make offers of tax reductions or reducing water rates or whatever the case may be for a specific company. We instead need to be diligent and proactive and work to improve their ability to operate a facilty in our community. We need to check in with them as often as we can and ask the important questions ahead of time, is there anyway we can help to improve your bottom line. That is how this once great nation worked, politicians went out into the community and made things work to keep businesses and companies thriving in their communities. We need to do better, make offers cut our operating costs reduce taxes and fees on businesses to keep them as stakeholders in our communities. Maybe it means cutting the size of our government or sharing services to reduce costs. Birdseye at one point was interested in purchasing the nearby vacant lot why didn’t we work harder to make that deal work. To make it happen, to get involved to help them increase their investment in this community. Did we approach them and say if you can use this property and offer some kind of agreement to increase their work force and production then we will be willing to give it to you this for less. Did we try to sell it below market value to make it a really great deal for them or did we try to ring out every possible dollar we could for a one time cash grab. Did we do every possible thing we could to help them even when they didn’t need or ask for our help. Have we looked at the railroad tracks that were once a vibrant way to move raw materials and goods across this country or did we simply let them fall into disrepair and wonder why we were paving over those tracks. Ask yourselves at the end of the day did we do everything we could to help them be more profitable to look at the partnership here as a win win or did we just go about day by day as usual thinking that if they don’t ask for our help they must not need our help. Business in this county is changing and we need to change they way we approach and work with them. And lastly I find it very odd that only days after it is announced that our school taxes will only increase 3.4% they opt to annouce that they will move to Wisconsin. A state that just took it on the chin and made the tough decision to start rolling back pension, health care and income costs in their unionized state, county, local and school workk forces. These are all questions I fear will go unaswered my only hope for the future is that if another company does come in and save the plant we learn from these mistakes and oversights and work harder to prove this can once again be a great place to do business. My thoughts and prayers to the workers, their families and loved ones.

    Thanks

  6. Why do the politicians always “reach out” after the fact? Now they are all looking for giveaways to entice Pinnacle to change their mind. It’s too late folks! Companies make these decisions after a thorough study, not on a whim. Will Barclay says he “reached out” to Pinnacle by letter 2 yrs ago but never received a response. HELLO? No response is a signal that all is not well. If Will Barclay really wanted to discuss the future with Pinnacle wouldn’t he have followed up the no response with a phone call and tried to set up a meeting? Nope… just went through the motions and let if drop. No real concern there.

    A shallow effort by one of our local political leaders (although more than the other politicians) and another lesson learned the hard way. While we still have Huhtamaki and other employers, how about being proactive, sit down with all of them, discuss their needs/concerns, work to alleviate them and assure these employers continued presence in Fulton and Oswego County.

    Businesses make budget/operations decisions based on facts, reality and costs. The NY state and school boards make budget/operations decisions because they think no one can do anything about it. Well people can do something about it, they can walk… and Birdseye along with many other companies and families have done just that.

    Do not think that ever increasing state and school taxes didn’t play a role in losing Birdseye and other local employers.

    NY politicians and school districts need to wake up.

  7. FYI
    Pinnacle Foods Group is adding 127 jobs to its frozen vegetable processing plant in Darien, Wis., as a result of its decision to shut a factory in Fulton, N.Y.
    It’s also adding about 15 jobs to a factory in Waseca, Minn.
    Pinnacle Foods, based in Mountain Lakes, N.J., announced the move in a press release Friday.
    The company is consolidating the plants to cut costs and shift production closer to crop production areas in the Midwest.
    The New York plant, with about 280 employees, will close in December, according to news reports. The Darien plant employs between 400 and 600 people, depending upon the season. The Waseca plant ranges between 120 and 160 employees, according to a Pinnacle company spokeswoman.
    Darien received a Community Development Block Grant loan worth $1.3 million to assist with Pinnacle’s planned $39.4 million expansion there, according to a press release from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Darien is about 15 miles east of Beloit.
    Read more: Pinnacle Foods adding jobs in Waseca | Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.
    Didn’t Fulton get a similiar Community Development Block Grant worth similiar money not too long ago? What did we get for what was spent? Just sayin you might want to look into it.

    Thanks
    Dave

  8. Pinnacle Foods Group Announces Plans To Further Improve Supply Chain
    print Share

    MOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. (April 15, 2011)– Pinnacle Foods Group LLC today announced plans to further improve the efficiency and sustainability of its supply chain. The company will be consolidating its Birds Eye® brand’s Fulton, N.Y. plant operations into its Darien, Wis. and Waseca, Minn. facilities, which will locate all vegetable processing closer to the crop growing region, eliminating approximately one million shipping miles every year.

    “The decision to close the Fulton, N.Y. facility was made after a thorough analysis of all options. The analysis determined this as the most efficient, sustainable way to operate. We are grateful for the services of our employees in Fulton and are committed to treating them with fairness and respect as we transition the facility this year,” says Daryl Pike, senior vice president of operations, Birds Eye Frozen Division, Pinnacle Foods Group. The Fulton, N.Y. facility will be closing at the end of 2011.

    By announcing the closing today, Pinnacle Foods provides all Fulton employees with more than the legally required 90 day notice period, and provides the majority of those employees affected with more than six months notice. The company will work with the State and local workforce agencies to assist dislocated workers and provide professional career support services. Qualified employees will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at other Pinnacle Foods facilities. Additionally, Pinnacle Foods will meet with the union officials at the plant to discuss details of the transition.

    In the Darien, Wis. and Waseca, Minn. plants, Pinnacle Foods will be investing significant capital to increase capacity and upgrade existing manufacturing capabilities, which will also result in the creation of new jobs in those regions. This consolidation is contingent upon the final approval of applicable state and local incentives in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

    About Pinnacle Foods Group LLC
    Millions of times a day in more than 85% of American households, consumers reach for Pinnacle Foods brands. We are a leading producer, marketer and distributor of high-quality branded food products, which have been trusted household names for decades. Headquartered in Mountain Lakes, NJ, our business employs more than 4,500 people in North America. We are a leader in the shelf stable and frozen foods segments and our brands hold the #1 or #2 market position in 8 out of 12 major category segments in which they compete. Our Duncan Hines Grocery Division manages brands such as Duncan Hines® baking mixes and frostings, Vlasic® pickles, peppers, and relish, Mrs. Butterworth’s® and Log Cabin® syrups, Armour® canned meats, Nalley® and Brooks® chili and chili ingredients, and Open Pit® barbecue sauces. Our Birds Eye Frozen Division manages brands such as Birds Eye®, Birds Eye Steamfresh®, C&W®, McKenzie’s®, and Freshlike® vegetables, Birds Eye Voila!® meals, Aunt Jemima® frozen breakfasts, Swanson® and Hungry-Man® dinners and entrees, Van de Kamp’s® and Mrs. Paul’s® seafood, Lender’s® bagels and Celeste® frozen pizza. Our Specialty Foods Division manages Tim’s Cascade Snacks®, Hawaiian™ Kettle Style Potato Chips, Snyder of Berlin® and Husman’s® in addition to our food service and private label businesses. Further information is available at http://www.pinnaclefoods.com.

    ###

    Media Contacts:
    Pinnacle Foods Group Media Line 973-541-8620
    Elizabeth Rowland [email protected]
    Michelle Weese [email protected]

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  9. Pinnacle Foods is owned by The Blackstone Group… a giant investment firm out of New York City. Where are Senators Chuck Shumer and Kirsten Gillibrand when Fulton really needs their influence? Oh, I forgot, they only need Fulton for the occasional photo op so they can be associated when someone else has done something good for the city:

    Pinnacle Foods
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC. PinnacleFoods.png
    Type Private
    Industry Food processing
    Founded 1998 (as Vlasic Foods International)
    Headquarters Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, U.S.
    Key people Roger Deromedi, Chairman
    Bob Gamgort, CEO
    Products Frozen food, Condiments, Baking mixes, Packaged meat
    Revenue $2.5 billion USD(2010)
    Owner(s) The Blackstone Group
    Employees 4,000
    Website http://www.pinnaclefoodscorp.com

    Pinnacle Foods Group LLC is a leading packaged foods company headquartered in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, owned by The Blackstone Group. Pinnacle Foods is a key player in the shelf stable and frozen food categories and their products can be found in more than 85% of American households.

    Blackstone Group
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (Redirected from The Blackstone Group)
    Not to be confused with BlackRock Inc, an investment management firm.
    The Blackstone Group L.P. Blackstone Group
    Type Public
    Traded as NYSE: BX
    Industry Financial Services
    Founded 1985
    Founder(s) Peter G. Peterson
    Stephen A. Schwarzman (Chairman & CEO)
    Headquarters New York, New York, U.S.
    Key people Hamilton James
    (President & COO)
    J. Tomilson Hill
    (Vice Chairman)
    Products Private Equity
    Investment Banking
    Investment Management
    Asset Management
    Revenue increase US$ 3.119 billion (2010)
    Net income increase US$ 1.418 billion (2010)
    AUM increase US$128.124 billion (2010)
    Total assets increase US$ 18.845 billion (2010)
    Employees 1,440 (2010)
    Website http://www.blackstone.com
    Blackstone’s New York Headquarters at 345 Park Avenue in New York City

    The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) is an alternative asset management and financial services company that specializes in private equity, real estate, and credit and marketable alternative investment strategies, as well as financial advisory services, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A), restructurings and reorganizations, and private placements.

  10. Like i have said on and on the politicians have wrecked the state of ny and we have a gov who father started it all 20 years ago…

  11. well fulton mayor who only says i worked at nestles i made it and got another job what we gonna do with all these workers make them drive to onondaga county to find a job? time to reevaluate these politics and say enough is enough. you sy we have people looking at coming in.. why would they want to come and pay high taxes

  12. Did anybody hear the news Friday night following the announcement? We had companies interested in coming to Fulton, but they were turned away due to not enough waste water treatment capacity….Now we are trying to get back in touch with these companies and let them know we now have the capacity!! Why didn’t we invest in the city of Fulton when these companies expressed interest in coming? It is also extremely unsettling that this information about turning away prospective companies was not publicized. I believe that if it were, the public would have displayed their outrage. We need to start investing in our city to bring businesses in. All the prettying up that is going on will mean nothing if our citizens can’t afford to stay here.

  13. I grew up in the 40’s thru the 60’s in Fulton. Bird’s Eye was just a few blocks from my parent’s home with Phillips Street grammar school half way between. In those years Fulton was a vibrant healthy city. My street, West Third Street, was lined with neat up-kept homes. Then in the 60’s “The Great Society” began and people discovered they really didn’t need to work to survive …the government would provide. The city began to decline and the once neat West Third Street now looks like a neighborhood ghetto. Whenever I get a chance to return to my home town and drive down the street where I have so many memories, I am always astonished at the number of homes where residents care so little that they leave doors open.

    Percy Patrick really screwed the town when he destroyed the old downtown and made way the present eye sore. Too bad someone could not have had the foresight to see the beauty in the old buildings that lined downtown and converted them rather than raze them.

    I’m afraid all of New York State is doomed until someone can take the reins of state government and bring sanity to the state. It appears the money of “those that give” is running out for “the ones that get.” It’s time to get back to the old axiom…no work…no food.

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