Citing the extended time required to revamp company production, Blue Bell Creameries announced it will lay off 1,450 workers and shutdown several distribution centers. The cutbacks amount to a 37 percent reduction in Blue Bell’s full-time and part-time labor force.
In what must have been a deeply painful announcement, Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse spoke to the public via the video release below. “The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell’s CEO and President,” Kruse said.
There has been very strong support for Texas’ favorite ice cream company from its employees and the communities in which Blue Bell operates. “At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally.”
Blue Bell has not been able to bounce back from the Listeria contaminations that struck several of its product lines over an extended period of time. Blue Bell announced there is no timetable at this time as to when they will resume operations.
Kruse stated that employee layoffs will be felt in three areas:
- Employees who are essential to ongoing operations and cleaning and repair efforts will continue to work but have their pay reduced.
- A second group of employees will be placed on partially paid furlough. They will be paid a substantial portion of their current pay, with the expectation that they will return to work as production resumes.
- Because there is not a clear timeline for when production will resume, and because supply and distribution will be limited when it does, a third group of employees will be laid off.
Once the company is cleared to restart operations, Kruse said the will be limited in scope and phased in over time.
Blue Bell also made the decision to suspend operations and lay off employees at the following distribution centers: Phoenix (2 branches) and Tucson, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and, Richmond, Virginia. Each distribution center services a 75-mile radius.
Kruse said the company will be working with local area chambers of commerce and companies to help find work for their employees they have been forced to lay off. Business owners in the area who are looking for workers are asked to call Blue Bell at 979-830-9837 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Texas Department of Health will be closely monitoring Blue Bell throughout the revamping process and as the company gradually resumes operations.