By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
Red Boiling Springs –Nestle Waters surprised employees and local officials Tuesday with the announcement that they would be closing the plant effective Wednesday, Dec. 4. The closure will immediately affect 43 employees, and the ripple effects will be felt throughout the community.
“Bottled water is a highly competitive category. In response to the competitive situation, we are evolving our business to better align our current operations to meet our future needs and position the company for long-term success,” stated Daniel Disney, factory manager, in a media statement. “As one step toward that goal, we have made the decision to cease production at the Red Boiling Springs, TN facility, effective Dec. 4, 2018.”
Macon County Mayor Steve Jones says they were not given any advance notice prior to the plant closing. Jones said the plant manager had come to the Macon County Joint Economic and Community Development Board meeting last month and told them that distance had caused them a lot of problems with high trucking costs. Still, Nestle officials gave them no indications that the plant was in danger.
Jones said, “It is devastating when you have anyone to lose their jobs like that with the plant closing. We’ve got 43 employees that will be losing their jobs. It’s devastating to the community when that happens.”
The loss of Nestle will be felt throughout Red Boiling Springs (RBS) and the surrounding area.
“It’s really going to hurt us,” said RBS Mayor Joel Coe. “I’ve run some numbers and it’s going to cost the city around $75,000 a year. It’s going to impact water, sewer and gas. We sold a lot of gas to them to make their bottles. It’s going to affect almost every aspect of the city.
“There are only two manufacturing plants in RBS and at one time there were nine. Now we are down to one.”
The 43 impacted workers will remain on Nestle’s payroll and will get health benefits until Feb. 2, 2019. Each employee will also be offered a separation package based on their years of employment with the company.
Nestle’s full statement is as follows:
“Bottled water is a highly competitive category. In response to the competitive situation, we are evolving our business to better align our current operations to meet our future needs and position the company for long-term success. As one step toward that goal, we have made the decision to cease production at the Red Boiling Springs, TN facility, effective Dec. 4, 2018.
While we are confident that this action will allow us to better serve our customers and make the company stronger, we recognize the impact that this decision will have on our Macon County associates and their families, and the Red Boiling Springs community. We will support each impacted associate with separation packages. We are grateful to all of our Red Boiling Springs associates whose hard work, skills and commitment to quality have made our brands loved and trusted by consumers across the country. We are also appreciative of the many residents and organizations in Red Boiling Springs with whom we have been proud to collaborate on a variety of important community initiatives.”
-Dan Disney, Red Boiling Springs Factory Manager
“We hope that between the city, county, and state that we can be able to find another industry,” Jones added. “It’s going to take the cooperation of everyone together to see if we can market and find something to get back in there.”