Blue Bell Creameries distribution center closed in Apache Junction

Blue Bell Creameries distribution centers in Apache Junction, 510 S. Colt Road, and in Phoenix and Tucson were closed by the ice cream company, according to a May 18 press release.

The company on April 20 started a voluntary recall of all of its products including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. It is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, according to an April 20 press release.

Due to the extended timeline required to ensure the highest quality and safety of Blue Bell’s products when the company resumes production, and because supply and distribution will be limited for some time to come, Blue Bell Creameries CEO and President Paul Kruse announced the decision that the company will have to reduce the size of its work force and take other cost-cutting measures, including furloughs and salary reductions.

There is no firm timeline for when Blue Bell will begin producing ice cream again. When production resumes, it will be limited and phased in over time, according to the press release at http://www.bluebell.com.

Approximately 1,400 employees will be furloughed, and approximately 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees – or 37 percent of the total Blue Bell workforce of 3,900 – will be laid off, Mr. Kruse said in the release.
Blue Bell also suspended operations and laid off employees at the following distribution centers: Phoenix (two branches, including Apache Junction) and Tucson; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia.

These decisions were based on the ability to service those locations given the limited production capacity Blue Bell expects when it resumes operations. Distribution centers typically service a 75-mile radius, according to the release. Blue Bell executives will be contacting area chambers of commerce to ask for help for employees who have been laid off. Business owners who may have jobs available can contact Blue Bell at 979-830-9831 or at jobs@bluebell.com, according to the release.

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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