Country Foods will close its Oconomowoc facility on
March 15, affecting 91 employees.
Rebecca Seymour/Special to
OCONOMOWOC — Lake Country Foods announced Tuesday its
plan to permanently close the plant in Oconomowoc —
formerly owned by Nestle and Carnation — in two months
and lay off its 91 employees.
company, located at 132 S. Concord Road, will fold for
good on March 15, citing the cost of modernizing its
nearly 100-year-old facility as the reason for closing.
Employee layoffs will go into effect the following day.
“There was no economical path forward to continue
operations given the age of the plant and the tremendous
costs which would be associated with modernizing the
facilities in order to maintain the high standards the
company has historically set for its products,” a
statement from Lake Country Foods said. “Therefore, we
have reached the very difficult decision to permanently
company manufactures dry powders using “world class”
agglomeration techniques, though it’s best known for
making malted milk powder, according to the website.
Greg Gill, attorney for Gill & Gill, S.C. in Appleton,
represents Lake Country Foods and said the owners do not
have plans to reopen the plant in a new location.
“There was not a path forward that made any amount of
sense,” Gill said. “We are wrapping up existing orders
and not taking any new business.”
said Lake Country Foods — owned by a private group —
will sell the equipment inside the plant and the
premises likely won’t be viable for manufacturing
Oconomowoc Mayor David Nold, who learned about the
closure Friday, said he hasn’t heard whether the owners
plan to sell the building or keep it. The facility is
next to an active rail line, which could be an appealing
selling point to another company, he said.
Finding other work
the 91 manufacturers and administrative workers who will
be without a job after March 15, the state Department of
Workforce Development and two unions that represent them
are already stepping up to help.
said the company met with all the employees in person
last week to notify them of the layoff and will be
communicating through union staff and administrators
until the plant closes.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will help
the workers file for unemployment and search for new
jobs or programs that will teach them different skills,
Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development has
also been contacted about the imminent layoff and is
offering services to Lake Country Foods employees
searching for jobs in the area. The group has helped
over 500 laid-off workers in the tri-county area look
for jobs in the last year, finding them employment for
an average wage of $20 an hour.
Laura Catherman, president of WOW Workforce Development
Board, said the labor market in the region is very
tight, meaning many companies are eager to hire, making
it easy for workers to find new jobs.
of the Lake Country Foods workers are represented by
Milwaukee-based International Association of Machinists
and Aerospace Workers-District 10 or Madison-based
Teamsters Local 695, according to a mandated WARN notice
sent out last week. The unions will negotiate with Lake
Country Foods over the effects of the closure and help
ease the transition out of the company.
Representatives of the two unions were not available for
said there’s talk of holding a job fair for the 91
workers, but nothing has been confirmed.
“There are jobs out there,” Nold said. “I’m not sure
they’ll be near to what they have now, but hopefully
they can keep their standard of living.”