COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Campbell Soup Company is closing its manufacturing facility in Columbus. The company made the announcement on Wednesday that they will close the operation by Spring 2022.
“It’s a scenario that of course we don’t want; it’s not the greatest thing for our community but we want to do our part to make sure that the company, the employees, and the community come out on the better end of it,” Jerald Mitchell, President and CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, said.
Most residents of Columbus remember the plant as “Tom Huston’s” or just “Tom’s.” The plant was founded in the 1920s by Tom Huston, who was known as “The Farmer Boy Who Became Peanut King.” Huston was a Columbus resident whose creations included a mechanical peanut sheller and a roaster for shelled peanuts.
Children in Columbus used to visit Tom’s for school field trips, and residents have memories of the plant and surrounding areas having a distinct roasted peanut smell. Throughout the years, the plant has had several ownership changes and was acquired by Campbell in 2018.
“I was talking to a good friend yesterday, he got his 50-year service plaque last year so he’s been there for 50 years,” Jack Warden, Former General Manager of Tom’s Foods Inc., said. “That’s, I think, a testament to what a strong family culture we built down there.”
The plant currently employs 326 individuals in the production of candy, crackers, cookies, nuts and bars. The closure of this plant means those individuals will lose their jobs.
According to a release from Campbell Soup Company, all impacted employees will receive support, including severance or separation packages, as well as career counseling and transition support.
“Thousands of people have worked at Tom’s over it’s 80 plus year history, and that’s going to be a huge blow,” Warden said. “I hate to see manufacturing jobs leave our community; they are special and that was a special place to work.”
According to Campbell spokesperson Michelle Reardon, all roles will be impacted as the company works to shut down operations over the next 18 months.