Sysco Corp. announced on Friday that its Falconer locations will be closed within 60 days as the company consolidates its Falconer service territory into the service territories of Sysco branches near Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Officials at the local distribution center, which is located on Allen Street Extension, forwarded all questions regarding the closure to Mark Palmer, the company's vice president of corporate communications.
Employees were notified of the decision Friday morning. The closure will eliminate about half of the 240 jobs that were at the Falconer location.
Photo by Kristen Johnson
The Sysco Corp. Falconer plant will close within 60 days the company announced Friday.
''We will be able to offer at least half the workforce job opportunities at two other Sysco branches,'' Palmer said. ''That's important to us because while this is a terrible bit of news, we feel it's positive that not everyone is going to lose their job.''
The other workers will be offered opportunities at Sysco branches in Harmony, Pa., which is near Pittsburgh, Pa., and Warners, N.Y., which is near Syracuse. But company officials don't expect all of those who are offered other opportunities to take them, Palmer said.
''For example, we employ sales representatives who cover a specific territory that can sometimes be very large,'' he said. ''Our sales people don't necessarily live close to the warehouse itself, so it's not likely that they would accept the offer of a job elsewhere. It's the same with our district managers - those folks may not take a job offer elsewhere because of how their district is structured.''
Those who do take advantage of the employment opportunities in Syracuse and Pittsburgh will need to relocate. Palmer said Sysco Corp. plans to work with those employees to ''make the transition as smooth as possible.''
It was unclear as of press time Friday whether Sysco Corp. has plans to assist homeowners who choose to relocate with selling their homes.
Palmer said all Sysco employees who remain on the job until the distribution center is closed will receive full pay and benefits for three months, even though the center will be closed sooner. If, during the transition period, an employee is unable to find another job for which he or she is qualified, or if they do not want to relocate, Palmer said those employees would be offered a severance package proportional to how long they have been employed with Sysco.
''We will also be providing employees with what is called 'outplacement assistance,''' he said. ''We will help them file for unemployment insurance benefits and, if needed, help them with resume writing and their job search. That's standard in this kind of a situation, but we feel it's very important.''
The decision is a direct response to the current state of the economy and Sysco's efforts to be more efficient, Palmer said.
''We have two very efficient operations in Pittsburgh and Syracuse that we can utilize,'' he said. ''This isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision at all. We've been very carefully watching the economy and considering how we can go about streamlining our operations.''
Palmer said transitional work is under way to reorganize the company's truck routes and sales districts.
''Our first priority is to make sure our customers get the same service they've grown accustomed to, even as we're transitioning and making these changes,'' he said. ''We will also be transferring inventory through the next two months. It's all got to be done as seamlessly as possible. We've got a lot of work to do.''
Sysco's future plans for the Allen Street Extension buildings were unclear as of press time Friday. Palmer said it had not yet been decided whether the company would sell its holdings or whether it would retain them in hopes that the economy would pick back up.
''I don't know as though we've gotten that far,'' he said.
Todd Tranum, the president and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, called the situation ''unfortunate.''
''These kinds of situations are always hard on the families of the people who lost their jobs,'' he said. ''I think it's a sign of how difficult an economy we're in right now. While I can't speak to the specific market conditions that affected Sysco's decision, I can say that during any kind of an economic downturn, folks tend to eat out less and they will delay purchases of homes and automobiles. There is always a ripple effect.''
Tranum said Sysco had been ''a good company locally.''
''They have always been good to work with,'' he said. ''This is unfortunate for the community. Hopefully, there will be opportunities to work with them in the future.''
The distribution center and cash-and-carry store in Falconer is what Sysco calls a ''full service, broad line food service distribution center.'' Out of the warehouse on Allen Street Extension, the company distributed everything from produce and meat to paper products and supplies for restaurants, hospitals and schools.