Thursday, 22 February 2018 06:01

More than 50 Spitz employees to be laid off in Bow Island by PepsiCo

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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More than 50 employees at the Spitz (PepsiCo Frito Lay) facility south of Bow Island in the County of Forty Mile, were given notice last Thursday morning that they would be getting laid off when the plant closes, and operations moved to the United States later this year.

Parent company, PepsiCo Foods Canada issued the following statement on Thursday afternoon, confirming the announcement.
"Today (Feb. 15) we announced our difficult decision to close our Spitz plant in Bow Island, Alberta. This facility will close later this year and Spitz production will be moving to an existing contract manufacturer partner in the US. This was a business decision based on an extensive evaluation of the long-term viability of this site and its ability to meet our increasing volume requirements for the brand, which will continue to play an important role in our North American portfolio. We are committed to assisting our impacted associates with financial support, access to financial counseling and job placement services."
Fifty-three employees, representing approximately one percent of PepsiCo Food Canada's workforce, are being impacted by the decision.
The news came as a surprise to local municipal leaders.
"It came as a shock to us when the announcement came out. The business has been in operation here for approximately 30 years and has been a very important part of our community as an employer and more," said Bow Island mayor Gordon Reynolds. "The Spitz brand helped raise the profile of the Bow Island area and the support they have given to various community projects and causes over the years has been invaluable. After purchasing the company from Tom and Emmy in 2008, PepsiCo continued to grow the brand and not long ago invested more money into plant leading us all to believe the future was bright for Spitz at Bow Island."
The focus for the community now is on the 53 people who are being put out of a job and for the plant, that is expected to be vacated by sometime in July.
"It was a business decision, but losing a business in a rural community is never good. We are concerned for the 53 people who are losing their jobs. This is very significant and we will feel the impact. What does unemployment do for a small community?" said Reynolds. "My hope is that the plant could be re-purposed for another agriculture-related business and we can get all or  some of those jobs back."
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes said the environment of doing business in Alberta has been deteriorating over the past couple of years under NDP leadership and he worries other businesses are going to move their operations out of province, as well.
"When you look at the layers and layers of burden to business, with the carbon tax, minimum wage, and corporate tax increases, at the same time when the U.S. is streamlining all this, more and more Alberta businesses are going to be voting with their feet and moving," said Barnes. "We are one of only six countries that can provide food around the world and Rachel Notley and her government is making it so agriculture producers and oil and gas companies can't compete. I'm afraid more and more corporations are going to do the same thing."
"More and more private employees are being laid off or are working for less than they were two years ago," Barnes added. "Her NDP philosophy and ideologies are hurting Albertans."
Spitz International was founded by Tom and Emmy Droog in 1982. Approximately 30 years later they sold the operation to PepsiCo. For the past several years, much of the sunflowers for production at the plant have been shipped in from Manitoba, where more than 90 percent of the country's sunflowers are grown, as well as from Saskatchewan and the United States.

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