Lake Country Foods to eliminate 91 jobs in closing

Modernization of former Nestle, Carnation Instant plant deemed too costly

Oconomowoc-based Lake Country Foods plans to cease operations and eliminate 91 jobs after determining “there was no economical path forward.”

The company is a contract manufacturer that provides blending, agglomeration and specialty packaging of powders for the food processing industry. It also claims to be “one of a just a few companies who manufacture true, natural, malted milk powder.”

Lake Country Foods took over the plant at 132 S. Concord Road in Oconomowoc in 1998. The plant was previously owned by Nestle Beverage Co. and before that was the flagship for the Carnation Instant Products division, according to the company website.

The plant itself is nearly 100 years old and Lake Country Foods issued a statement indicating the costs to upgrade it were too high.

“The company has reached a very difficult decision to cease operations based upon the fact that there was no economical path forward to continue operations given the age of the plant and the tremendous costs which would be associated with modernizing the facilities in order to maintain the high standards the company has historically set for its products,” the statement said.

An attorney for Lake Country Foods sent notice to the Department of Workforce Development on Friday about the planned closure.

Most of the 91 employees are represented by Teamsters Local 695 while others are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 10.

Operations at the facility will cease on March 15 with a small number of employees staying on through March 30 for plant maintenance.

“We will be meeting with the union representatives to negotiate over the effects of this decision and hopefully help these employees in this transition,” the company statement said. “We are additionally meeting with our non-union employees to likewise discuss with them opportunities that will be made available to help them during this difficult transitory period.”

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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