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Firm to close Greencastle salad plant

March 03, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Nearly 150 jobs will be lost this month when Taylor Farms, which operates a fresh salad and vegetable packaging plant at 255 N. Carlisle St., shuts down, according to a letter to the Greencastle Borough Council.

The letter was addressed to Greencastle Mayor Robert "Red" Pensinger and was from Garth Borman, general manager of the plant. It did not say why the company was closing.

An employee at the plant said Tuesday that the business was moving to the Baltimore area.

Borman, in the letter, said the job losses would be permanent.

A spokeswoman at Taylor Farms corporate headquarters in Salinas, Calif., referred inquiries to Borman. Borman was in Baltimore on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

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Borman's letter cited the loss of manufacturing jobs, 10 technicians, eight supervisors, seven employees in quality assurance, three executives, three clerical positions and two in accounting.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Authority, said employees holding manufacturing jobs are predominantly Hispanic.

Taylor Farms started its operation in March 2001.

Between Taylor Farms and Fresh Express Mid Atlantic, another fresh vegetable packaging plant, an estimated 4 million pounds of bagged salads were shipped out of Greencastle each week when both plants were in full production.

Fresh Express, which opened in 1992, had about 300 workers until it was consolidated with other company facilities in October 2002. The plant was converted to a distribution center at the Commerce Avenue facility with about 40 employees.

"I assume it (Taylor Farms) is moving to a bigger plant in Baltimore," Ross said. "I'm not sure of the rationale."

He said he is disappointed that both salad packaging plants have ended their manufacturing operations in Greencastle.

"It didn't make much sense to us. The work force in both places was exceptional."

Ross said his agency has already started to look for a new tenant for the renovated building on North Carlisle Street. It was severely damaged in a fire in January 2000.

Taylor Farm officials said they opened the Greencastle plant to be closer to mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets.

"We are always sorry to see jobs leave the Greencastle area," Borough Manager Kenneth E. Myers said Tuesday. "Hopefully, it can be leased to somebody who will match the jobs that are lost."

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