The Golden Guernsey Dairy brand has had a successful 80 year history in Wisconsin, but that might be in jeopardy as the Waukesha plant closed unexpectedly on Saturday.
On January 5, 2013, shortly after the morning shift workers arrived, they were told not to stay. Managers at dairy operation located at 2101 Delafield Street told workers the plant was shutting down.
Golden Guernsey Dairy brand began in 1930 as a farmer-owned cooperative based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin producing and delivering milk and other dairy products. They started with one route serving 85 customers, but by 1936 had expanded to 85 routes with 20,000 customers.
Ground was broke for a new facility located in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1955. By the 1960s, home delivery was phased out for distribution to retail markets such as grocery stores and supermarkets.
In 1995, Golden Guernsey Dairy Cooperative and Wisconsin Dairies Cooperative in Baraboo, Wisconsin consolidated to create Foremost Farms USA. Foremost also acquired Morning Glory Farms Region of Associated Milk Producers, Inc. But in 2009, Foremost Farms decided to leave the fluid milk and sour cream business and sold that portion of the business to Dean Foods.
Dean Foods, which acquired the both the De Pere and Waukesha Golden Guernsey plants, however, soon came under fire from the Department of Justice and attorneys general of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan for owning too large a percentage of the supply of milk in Wisconsin and Michgan's Upper Peninsula.
As a result of an antitrust suit, Dean Foods was required to sell the Waukesha plant, but allowed to keep the plant in De Pere. In September 2011, the plant was purchased by Open Gate Capital, a private equity firm out of Los Angeles.
The plant closing comes as a shock to all involved, the 100 plant workers, distributors, the mayor of Waukesha, Jeff Scrima, and even the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Many schools come Monday might be surprised when they find they are without lunch milk.
Did this sudden closing violate Wisconsin's Business Closing and Mass Layoff Law? The law states that businesses of 50 or more employees must give written noticed 60 days before implementing any plant closings or mass layoffs in the state. Only time will tell.