PORTLAND, Maine — Portland-based Barber Foods announced Monday that it would be laying off 82 employees from its work force of 670.
Company President David Barber said investments in new equipment have led to the layoffs.
“As our competitors and customers continue to get bigger, we must improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance efficiencies,” said Barber. “Unfortunately, one of the tough consequences is letting go of associates whose contributions we greatly appreciate.”
Barber said the plan to invest in new equipment was “well in the works” ahead of the recent acquisition of Barber Foods by AdvancePierre Foods.
The companies announced the deal earlier this month, noting that AdvancePierre plans to invest millions in the Portland factory. Barber Foods said at the time that the investment in equipment would likely result in layoffs.
Barber’s father, Gus Barber, founded the company in 1955 with one employee, in a 1,000-square-foot facility. It grew over the years, and is a major employer in Portland, with 670 employees in a 150,000-square-foot factory.
Gus Barber was the son of Armenian immigrants, and Barber Foods has been known as an employer of immigrants over the years. It has employees from roughly 51 nations working at the plant today. In the past, Barber foods offered on-site English lessons at the factory.
Gus Barber died in 2008, and his children remained owners and trustees of the company.
AdvancePierre Foods is the result of a merger in October 2010, among Pierre Foods, Advance Food Company and Advance Brands. AdvancePierre offers a full line of packaged sandwiches, fully-cooked chicken and beef products, Philly-style steak, raw breaded beef, pork and poultry and bakery products.
AdvancePierre has plants in Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina and Iowa.