Lewiston plant to cease bottling, facility may be sold

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

White Rock Distilleries will cease bottling by the first quarter of next year and the facility might be sold, Beam Inc. said Thursday.

LEWISTON — The local plant formerly known as White Rock will cease bottling by the first quarter of next year and the facility might be sold, Beam Inc. said Thursday.

Beam officials said bottling of their Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack Rum brands will be transitioned from Maine to Kentucky, a move that will affect more than 100 employees at White Rock.

The reason? Efficiency, according to a Beam news release. More than two-thirds of the company's global annual volume is produced in Kentucky. The move will be done in phases, the company said, as bottling operations are moved to a recently expanded facility in Frankfort, Ky.

As of Thursday afternoon, 160 people were employed at the Lewiston facility, a Beam spokesperson said. The employees had been told of the move.

The news came as a blow to the local economy and to local employees who, in April 2012, were told Beam expected to keep bottling work in Lewiston. Beam bought the Pinnacle and Calico Jack brands and other assets for $650 million. 

A company spokesman called the move out of Lewiston "a logical step."

"In reviewing ways to enhance its production efficiencies and best integrate the brand into our supply chain at Beam, we have determined that consolidating our bottling operations over time is a logical step,” said Ian Gourlay, Beam’s senior vice president of global operations and supply chain.

“Our technologically advanced facility in Frankfort, Ky., has the capability to absorb the production and bottling activity currently performed in Lewiston, as well as the potential to accommodate higher volumes in the future.”

With Pinnacle and Calico heading south, nothing will be left to sustain the Lewiston facility. Although the company used to have more than a dozen liquor brands, it sold them off individually, before and after the Beam sale last year, Beam spokeswoman Paula Erickson said.

In the news release sent out late Thursday afternoon, company officials acknowledged the workers at the Lewiston facility.

“While the transition of Pinnacle’s bottling from Maine into Kentucky won’t be complete until the end of (the first quarter) of 2014, we wanted to provide as much up-front notice as possible to our talented workforce in Lewiston,” Gourlay said.

“It’s important to underscore that this decision is in no way a reflection on their dedication and hard work," he said. "We are committed to working with them to ease the transition as these plans progress. We will also review alternative options for the Lewiston plant, including potential sale of the facility.”

mlaflamme@sunjournal.com

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Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Don't let your hopes, get in your way.....

Having been on the receiving end of my fair share of pink slips, I stopped being surprised. Instead I have become more and more skeptical of any attempt at moral building or company wide corporate meetings. People need to realize, if you ignore whats right in front of you, it's not going away.
"The news came as a shock to the local economy", if anyone at the outset, had done an ounce of research, they may have seen from the very beginning, this company wasn't looking to expand operations, they were looking for product lines to enrich their new state of the art manufacturing and bottling plant in Kentucky. They weren't going to tell anyone that, they needed to keep everyone happy long enough to set up logistics to make the transition.
Now, I wasn't there, but I'll bet it went something like this. There was a large company wide meeting in which the new owners wanted to introduce themselves, and outline the new outlook for the future. There were probably a few suits up front, a couple of nicely dressed women, and of course the old company management crawling around, kissing the suits feet. I always hate to see these people crawling, but at least someone understood their job was history. Also the new corporate logo plastered on everything that wasn't nailed down. I'm also willing to bet that these new corporate types painted a beautiful picture of the future, good job security, increased business, all the same old BS to keep everyone in line. It was all true, every word of it, except for one little detail. None of you in the audience are invited to our little party . We're just want for your product line and jobs. (I made that last part up myself) This is nothing more than a game to these people, they have hardened themselves to the point that they refuse to feel any compassion for anyone other than shareholders.
It's sad, but the days of being able to trust someone, or make an agreement on a handshake are over. I mean, what would you call a person who can stand in front of a large crowd of anxious workers, some who may have been with a company their entire life, and tell them everything is going great, and the future is all but certain to be nothing but positive, and they know full well that the plant is closing in one year or so. Some might call them a "scumbag", I'd call them a trained business person.
Welcome to the corporate world, If I seem somewhat reluctant to trust a suit, your very observant. I come from a whole family of suits, well everyone but me of course. I wonder where I went wrong? I could be happily living in a million dollar home with three cars right now. I guess I just don't have what it takes to strip someone of everything they have worked for all their life, without giving it a second thought. Holding true, only to the one who deposits my quarterly dividends.
So the next time you come to work, and there's a guy with a three hundred dollar suit standing at the front of a hall, telling you that "Your best interest" is his only concern. Your days with that job are probably numbered. Just try to remember two things, one: Its your job, not you their letting go, and two, learn to beat them at their own game, they hate that..........

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Couldn't have said it better

Couldn't have said it better Frank. This should be saved and handed out to every new employee at every job orientation at every company.

 's picture

damn, geiger brothers and

damn, geiger brothers and white rock. there aren't that many jobs around as it is, and what there is is low wage service/ tourist industry. i wonder if beam will allow the displaced white rock employees to apply for jobs at the kentucky plant.

BROOKS MORTON's picture

Vacationland

Where all manufacturing jobs are to vacate? To make room for more Vacationers? The displaced workers will be retrained to make up beds.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Lewiston plant to cease bottling, facility may be sold

Mark, 13.01.24 18:00
. . Beer ? Birch beer . Craft beers . Root beers . L\A beer •
Either that or a gun factory :)
http://www.twincitytimes.com
/s , Steve

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