Morningstar to restructure local plants
Company invests $12 million to consolidate; local production to increase

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Feb. 27, 2004 -- Morningstar Foods, a division of Dean Foods, announced earlier this week that it will be consolidating operations in Sulphur Springs.

Currently, Morningstar operates two facilities here. Last October, Dean Foods acquired Kohler Mix Specialities from Michael Foods Inc. That acquisition included the purchase of the Kohler plant in Sulphur Springs.

Morningstar will be investing approximately $12 million at its Industrial Drive location in order to consolidate the Kohler operations into a single Morningstar facility. Additionally, some production and distribution volume from facilities in other parts of the country will also be consolidated into the merged Sulphur Springs plants.

"A lot of the employees at that facility will be transferred to this facility," said Joe Wallace, manager of the Sulphur Springs Morningstar plant.

The restructuring will allow Morningstar to better serve its customers and create economic efficiencies.

"We are putting approximately $12 million into our facility here," Wallace said. "Seven million of that will be for a new Bosch production line. The remainder of that $12 million will be for the Kohler consolidation."

At the combined Sulphur Springs locations, Morningstar manufactures and distributes aseptic dairy and non-dairy creamers, soy beverages, flavored milks, whipping cream, ice cream mix and other related products across the nation.

"We are also adding additional milk receiving to the plant," Wallace said. "We are having to upgrade utilities like steam, air, water and waste water."

The projected closing of the Kohler location is anticipated to be Dec. 1, 2004, as soon as the capital expansion at the Morningstar location is complete.

"When we get through, we will have approximately 225 employees at this facility," Wallace said.

The Morningstar facility in Sulphur Springs has seen a significant expansion of its plant and number of employees in recent years.

In November of 2002, the employee base at Morningstar was 127, but that number grew in one year to 161 with eight positions open.

Following the addition of a 55,000 square foot distribution center at the facility, an additional 25 jobs were created at the plant, Wallace said in November of 2003.

Initially, that $6.5 million expansion was expected to provide an additional 10 jobs, but Wallace attributed the larger number of employees to growth in the company.

"We are continuing to expand and grow, especially over the past few years," Wallace said in November. "There will be additional growth in this plant. I can't tell you how much, but I know there will be a pretty substantial growth spurt in the next year or two."

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