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Kingsport's PET Dairy plant closing; 120 jobs to be lost

Sharon Hayes • Jun 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT - After more than 50 years in operation, the PET Dairy plant on Konnarock Road is shutting its doors, resulting in the loss of 120 jobs.

Dean Foods announced Monday it will close the facility and move production to other company locations.

Production will be phased out in the next 90 days and will cease entirely during the week of Sept. 7.

Dean Foods spokesman Amber Seikaly said the closure has nothing to do with the recession.

“We just did a study of our operations and we determined that there were efficiencies to be gained by shifting production to other Dean Foods facilities, which enables us to serve our customers more cost effectively,” Seikaly said.

“Production will be moved to other facilities in the area.”

About 120 plant, administrative and over-the-road driver positions will be impacted.

Seikaly said the company plans to help those employees find new jobs.

“We’re going to have recruit ment professionals there in the next couple of weeks to help with resumes and how they can do job searches and things like that,” she said.

As for the plant itself, Seikaly said the company is weighing its options on whether to sell or lease the property.

Pet Dairy moved its production operation to the Kingsport facility in 1953. Pet Dairy became part of the Dairy Group under the Dean Foods umbrella when Suiza Foods merged with Dean Foods in December 2001.

The Kingsport plant has produced fresh milk products for East Tennessee, Southwestern Virginia and Western North Carolina. The plant produces regular fluid milk, flavored milk, butter milk, egg nog, soft serve ice cream mix, half and half, heavy cream, and flavored drinks.

Dean Foods is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

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