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Borden Closing 2 Plants : 74 Face Layoffs as Plans Announced to Shut Last Big Pasta Maker in L.A.

October 31, 1987|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | Times Staff Writer

Borden said Friday that it is closing its Western Globe Products pasta factory in West Los Angeles and is laying off 74 employees, eliminating the last of the large Los Angeles pasta makers.

The food products giant said it is moving production of Globe A-1 pasta to its Phoenix factory "to utilize the latest equipment at high levels of production." Two years ago, Borden's purchase of the 100-employee Anthony Macaroni Co. was also followed by a shift in production to Phoenix.

Borden also said Friday that it will phase out production at the Anaheim plant of Laura Scudder's, which it recently purchased. (See related story.)

Like Anthony Macaroni, the Globe A-1 brand will continue, a Borden spokeswoman said. "We wouldn't have acquired the businesses if they didn't have a strong brand loyalty and following," she said.

The two moves, which leave Los Angeles without its two best-known local pasta companies, are part of a continuing consolidation in the pasta industry, said Joseph Lichtenberg, president of the National Pasta Assn.

"The industry was basically dominated by regional companies" until about 10 years ago, Lichtenberg said. "Now we have a couple of large food companies that have a stable of regional brands."

Borden last year bought Western Globe Products, which traces its origins to 1919 and the old Panama Macaroni Co. on the same site at Venice and Robertson boulevards. Borden is now the nation's largest pasta maker with pasta sales projected at $350 million out of total 1987 company sales of $6.5 billion.

Many employees of Western Globe Products were told in the morning that Friday would be their last working day. Fifty-eight employees were immediately let go and the remaining 16 jobs will be phased out by the end of the year.

The 25,000-square-foot factory, which was built about three years ago to replace the aging original building, will be put up for sale.

"We're all upset," said Martha Najarro, a supervisor who has worked for 10 years at Western Globe. "I don't worry about myself because I'm 34 and I can always get a job. Some of these people are only a month away from their pensions."

"It's not fair," said Anna Kolath, a 16-year employee. "It's kind of hard because I'm up in age. . . . But there are so many people here who are hurting more than I am. They have families and little children."

Borden said it will offer workers help in getting another job.

Former Globe owner John William, whose father Robert bought Western Globe from Pillsbury in 1955, said the closure bothers him.

"Everything changes with time and I guess I'm disappointed to see an operation I built closed." William said. "I grew up with a lot of the employees."

But even though the company was profitable, "we weren't in a position to be able to compete against the big guys," said William, who now owns a small chain of pizza restaurants, a car leasing operation and a commercial lending business.

Similarly, Anthony Macaroni owners Angelo Guido and Edward Minni were pushed by increasing competition to sell the business founded in 1919 by their father-in-law Anthony Bizzari.

"You could just about read the handwriting on the wall with all these giants getting in the pasta business," said Guido, who now owns Camino Real Foods, a Vernon burrito maker, with his brother-in-law, Minni.

The remaining independent Southern California pasta makers--among them, Costa Macaroni and Gabriele Macaroni--are small and specialized firms.

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