Less than seven years after acquiring Peninsula Packaging, Sonoco Products Co. is shuttering the last of the thermoforming manufacturing plants acquired in the deal.
Hundreds of workers at Sonoco's plant in Exeter, Calif., now have less than six weeks to go in their current jobs after the company has decided to close the site.
The decision shutters the last of five plants Sonoco acquired through its $230 million acquisition of Peninsula Packaging in 2017.
Sonoco's move impacts 315 workers at Sonoco's packaging plant in Exeter, the company said in a Sept. 20 email. A notice filed with the Employment Development Department of California lists a plant closure date of Nov. 1.
The employees are nonunion and do not have bumping rights to move to other company facilities, Sonoco said. They will receive severance packages and outplacement assistance.
Not long after the acquisition of Peninsula Packaging, Sonoco closed a former Peninsula thermoforming plant in 2018 in Hollister, Calif., a move that cost 156 people their jobs, Plastics News reported at the time.
And it was in late 2020 that the company decided to close another former Peninsula thermoforming plant in Yakima, Wash., putting 133 out of work. Sonoco, in announcing the Yakima closure, also indicated it was transforming another plant acquired from Peninsula in Guadalajara, Mexico, from manufacturing to distribution.
In 2021 Sonoco closed another Peninsula thermoforming plant in Wilson, N.C., costing 138 jobs. The company, at the time, said it was consolidating operations on the East Coast at a facility in Plant City, Fla.
"The Wilson, N.C., thermoforming operation served as a satellite operation to Plant City and forecasted sales did not support maintaining the Wilson facility," a company spokesman said at the time.
Placon Corp. later purchased the Wilson plant from Sonoco in a deal that included four large-scale thermoforming machines and two extrusion lines.
Sonoco's purchase of Peninsula from Odyssey Investment Partners LLC nearly doubled the company's thermoforming business at the time. The company said it was a move to further push the company into the perimeter of grocery stores.
"With the addition of Peninsula, Sonoco will nearly double its thermoforming packaging capabilities and occupy a strong packaging position serving the perimeter in fresh food products, combined with our existing offerings in the center of the store, including those serving a range of frozen and shelf-stable foods," then-CEO Jack Sanders said in a statement.
Sonoco now has $750 million in thermoforming sales in North America, placing it at No. 5 in Plastics News rankings.
"As part of our ongoing operational improvement programs, we continue to evaluate our manufacturing footprint based on long-term economic viability and the ability to cost effectively serve our customers. Against this backdrop, we have made the difficult decision to close the Exeter facility. We are committed to supporting our customers during this transition and providing our employees with outplacement assistance," the company said in a statement.
More than 700 jobs have been lost through the closure of the four thermoforming sites in the United States that were formerly part of Peninsula.