Mars Petcare is closing its pet food plants in Joplin and Pueblo, Colo., in response to excess production capacity and reduced demand for pet food in the central and western regions of the country.
Julie Lawless, corporate communications director for Mars, said in an interview Tuesday morning at the plant, 1983 S. State Line Ave., that the plant’s 121 employees were notified immediately that the plant was closing.
Lawless said the dry pet food line has been shut down. The plant’s dog biscuit line will continue operating for a few more months. Plans call for the entire plant to cease production in September. The actual closing date will be Nov. 1.
The Workforce Investment Board of Southwest Missouri mobilized its Rapid Response team on Tuesday to assist the workers who have lost their jobs.
Leslie Abram, coordinator of the Rapid Response team, said a layoff information meeting will be held with the workers at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, 320 E. Fourth St.
The meeting will be for those who lost their jobs on Tuesday. A subsequent meeting will be held when the dog biscuit line closes, she said.
“We know that 41 people will not be going back to work this week,” said Abram, who said she had spoken with the company’s human resources department on Tuesday. “The company is meeting with them individually this week.”
The remaining employees will be released in phases as production ends.
Abram said some of the workers might be hired by other pet food employers in the area. The Blue Buffalo Co. is constructing an $85 million pet food plant in the Crossroads Center Business and Distribution Park. It will be hiring up to 150 workers, but not before the plant opens in 2015.
According to Lawless, Mars has 13 manufacturing plants across the country, with extra capacity in the central and western regions, which led to the decision to close the plants. The closures, she said, were necessary for the company’s long-term sustainability.
She also said there has been a reduction in demand for pet food partly because people are moving to smaller dogs.
The company supplies products for private label brands, and those brands often have more than one supplier.
MARS ACQUIRED THE PLANT from Doane Pet Care Enterprises Inc. in 2006 after Doane, based in Nashville, Tenn., was purchased by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for $840 million the previous year.