UPDATE 11/3/23 6:45 p.m.
REMUS — The small community of Remus is reacting to Leprino Foods’ surprise announcement that they are laying off the majority of its workforce next January, downsizing from 140 jobs down to approximately 23.
A spokesperson for the world’s largest mozzarella cheese maker, confirmed Thursday that they are converting the plant from a string cheese operation to producing condensed skim milk.
Wheatland Township supervisor, Tom VanSyckle said the surprise announcement that Leprino foods is laying off more than a hundred people came out of nowhere.
“I was very surprised to hear that. There were no rumors or anything of them cutting down the size. They just pulled them all in for a meeting and told everybody. And that was it. No forewarning or anything. It’s a shock to everybody, you know, the community and the employees,” said VanSyckle.
VanSyckle who is also a member of Remus’ Downtown Development Authority said it’s concerning but they understand it’s just business and they will continue to have a good working relationship with the cheesemaker.
“It would have a negative impact of some portion, of course, but it’s not going to cripple Remus by any means. And, you know, again, Leprino’s not leaving. They’re just downsizing the employment here,” said VanSyckle.
VanSyckle said he’s not sure yet what people who are laid off will do yet but there are positives to where Remus is located.
“Remus is a big agricultural area. We have some very large pig farms in the area. We have Bandit Industries and Morbark. There’s a lot of people from our area that work there. So, there’s plenty of jobs in the area where people commute a few miles to get to Remus will continue. We will hurt a little bit, but we’ll survive,” said VanSyckle.
VanSyckle says it’s still early to know how this announcement will impact Remus. They have not talked to Leprino Foods in person yet. He said he’s sure more information will come in the coming weeks and the township will then be able to act to minimize the impact.
“I’m sure this will be on the agenda. We’re going to try and help at some level of, you know, whether we hold a job fair or something at the town hall. But it’s still new. We haven’t had a chance to figure things out yet,” VanSyckle.
For area businesses, like Anne Marie’s Restaurant & Pizzeria that just expanded from Barryton to Remus back in January, they are concerned what this will do to their bottom line.
Christopher Elliot, co-owner of the pizza place, said they know it will affect them.
“It’s right around the corner from us. We get at least two or three orders a day. So, I mean, that’s quite a bit for us. You know, our lunches are not crazy, but I mean when they spend quite a bit of money, it’s going to have an impact on us,” said Elliot.
Elliot isn’t worried just about his business but the impact it has for the employees being laid off and the community as well.
“It’s sad. It’s I mean, it’s a big loss for the community. It’s a big loss for them. You know, it’s a financial burden on everybody. So, yeah, I mean, we would like to see What’s going to happen to the area?” said Elliot.
Wheatland Township said the local Michigan Works is reaching out to employees to support them.
9&10 News reached out to Leprino Foods, they declined to comment further on the transition plans.
11/2/23 7 p.m.
REMUS — Leprino Foods in Remus is laying off the majority of its employees.
A spokesperson for the world’s largest mozzarella cheese maker confirmed that they are converting the plant from a string cheese operation to producing condensed skim milk starting in early January of next year. The plant currently employs about 140 people.
Leprino Foods said they are still finalizing exact staffing numbers but they believe operations will only require about 23 employees.
They also said over the coming months, they will be providing transition support and re-employment resources to impacted employees.
The company said they are making the changes to better meet current and future production needs, as well as the evolving needs of their customers.
Leprino Foods made the following statement about the changes being made:
”We do not take this decision lightly nor do we underestimate how this will impact those affected by this change and the Remus community. We will work diligently with employees and the community during this transition.”