Just a year after buying IL Richer Feed in Central Bridge, Blue Seal is closing the mill.
Employees were notified Friday; about half of the fulltime workers are being offered jobs at other Blue Seal plants, Kevin Fields, company president, said Monday.
Mr. Fields said the last day of production at the mill will be May 1, but a few employees will stay until the 8th to handle cleanup.
“It’s never easy,” Mr. Fields said of the layoffs, “It’s still five people losing their jobs.”
The New Hampshire-based Blue Seal Feeds purchased IL Richer mills in Central Bridge and Sangerfield in January 2008
It also owns a plant in Bainbridge.
With declines in the dairy industry and a drop in cow numbers, Mr. Fields said, the demand for feed is also down.
Together, the three mills’ production capacity exceeds feed demand, he said, and closing the Central Bridge mill will allow the company to increase its efficiency at the others.
The former IL Richer plant is the smallest of the three with a production capacity of 2,800 tons of feed a month.
By comparison, capacity at the plant in Bainbridge—which is newer and computerized-- is 5,000 tons.
In a letter sent to customers dated April 16, Blue Seal notes, “Today’s business climate is one that requires difficult choices.
“Anyone involved with the dairy industry understands that sometimes drastic measures are called for in an effort to remain profitable…
“We are continuing to evaluate, learn, and identify ways to compete more effectively in a very challenging dairy market…”
Jim Schultz, mill manager in Central Bridge, is one of those who will be remaining with Blue Seal and will be managing the Bainbridge feed mill.
Mr. Fields said Blue Seal hopes to sell the Central Bridge plant, which is located in an Empire Zone, and has already had some inquiries from potential buyers, including one who would operate it as a feed mill.