Business, News

Lynn Mayor: Garelick Farms still hasn’t contacted the city about plant closure

Mayor Thomas McGee speaks about Garelick farms during a press conference in Lynn City Hall. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — One day after Garelick Farms employees were told the Lynnway plant will close within months, the mayor has still not heard from the Texas company.

“This lack of communication and commitment to the city is indicative of the corporate culture of today,” said Mayor Thomas M. McGee at a press conference Wednesday in the City Hall lobby. “It reflects decisions made that focus on the bottom line without regard to the community, without any outreach or communication with the city they are impacting.”

McGee learned of the factory closing, he said, when contacted Tuesday by The Item.

The plant’s 300 employees were told the warehouse would shutter this fall during a Town Meeting gathering on Tuesday.

“Like many of you, I am in shock over this sudden announcement,” McGee said. “Garelick has had no communication with me or my office…for a company that’s been part of Lynn’s economy since 1998, when it purchased the plant from West Lynn Creamery, it is disheartening to say the least that they would announce their decision this way.”

Dean Foods’ CEO Ralph Scozzafava, Reace Smith, the company’s spokeswoman, and Sherri Baker, the company’s vice president of investor relations, did not return calls seeking comment.

Charles Pearce, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, said his office has not received a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN) notice from Garelick. The federal law protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring employers with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60 days advance written notice of a plant closing.

The Massachusetts Department of Career Services Rapid Response teams have reached out to Garelick and are working to schedule a time to discuss employment services offered by the state and federal government, Pearce said.

A spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development said Garelick did not receive any tax credits and was not obligated to give the agency a heads-up about the closing.

Last month, Nasdaq.com reported the company has been struggling with lower production, higher raw milk costs, and loss of share in U.S. milk volumes, which has largely hurt its performance.

Analysts say softening demand for milk has taken a toll on Dean Foods for quite some time now, sending its shares to six-year low in April. Non-dairy substitutes such as almond and oat milk along with other beverages have been hurting demand for milk, analysts said.

Garelick started as a one-truck operation by John Constanadites in 1928, delivering 300 quarts of milk daily under the name of  West Lynn Creamery, according to LynnLegacies.org.

It grew to become a $300 million company with a fleet of 400 trucks, and 850 employees who produced one million quarts of milk per day, the website said.

The business was sold to James Pappathanasi in 1934, who flipped it to his brothers-in-law, Paul, James and Angelo Scangas in 1937.

In the 1970s, the Scangas sons, Nick and Chris, and James  Pappathanasi’s son, Arthur, took over the business.

In 1998, Suiza Foods, which later merged with and became Dean Foods, purchased West Lynn Creamery and has operated it as Garelick Farms.

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