Hawkeye purchaser will close Danville site

DANVILLE — U.S. Foods has decided to close the Hawkeye Foodservice Distribution facility in Danville, following U.S. Food's purchase of the Hawkeye corporation earlier this month.

About 30 people work at the Hawkeye facility at 1536 E. Fairchild St., Danville.

By Nov. 5, operations at the Danville location will be integrated into U.S. Foods' existing facility in Streator, which is a larger operation, according to Lisa Lecas with U.S. Foods. She said Danville's distribution area overlaps with the Streator location of U.S. Foods, which is a food and distribution company that's headquartered in Rosemont and employs about 25,000 people in more than 60 locations nationwide.

Hawkeye employs about 425 at four distribution centers: Iowa City, Iowa; Fairmont, Minn.; Wright City, Mo.; and Danville. Lecas said the Wright City location also will close, and its operations will be integrated into U.S. Foods' St. Louis facility by Oct. 1. That facility employs about 20.

According to the U.S. Foods news release, management at the Danville and Wright City locations has met with employees to discuss severance and placement programs.

Lecas said all Danville employees have the opportunity to apply for open positions that may be available at the Streator facility or other U.S. Foods locations, and he confirmed the Streator facility has open positions.

U.S. Foods is offering as many reassignments and transfer opportunities within the company as possible, according to the news release, and to assist remaining employees in a transition to other employment, the company will continue to provide benefits to employees.

Vicki Haugen, president of Vermilion Advantage, said U.S. Foods has been in contact with her office, and Vermilion Advantage is working with the company on the transition in regard to employees as well as the Hawkeye facility on East Fairchild Street. Haugen said with other distribution facilities in Danville, there is local demand for employees with the skills of those at Hawkeye. She said there also has been an increased demand for food-grade, refrigeration-type facilities like the Hawkeye location, and her office is already marketing that 65,000-square-foot building that sits on almost 12 acres.

Hawkeye Distribution Inc. bought that facility in 1995, after Pueringer-Multi Foods vacated it in a consolidation. Haugen said Hawkeye, which was looking for that type of existing facility, bought it less than a month after Pueringer was out, and she hopes to have the same success again. Haugen said her office has already contacted companies that had recently expressed interested in such a facility but haven't yet made a final decision.

Founded in 1952, the family-owned, Iowa-based Hawkeye Foodservice Distribution is one of the largest privately owned independent food service distributors, delivering to several Midwest states various food and food-related items to institutions such as restaurants, health care facilities and schools. With sales in excess of $200 million, Hawkeye serves more than 4,000 customers.

Jeff Braverman, owner of Hawkeye Foodservice Distribution, is the third generation to lead Hawkeye. He will join U.S. Foods as division president in Iowa and will, along with his sales team, continue to oversee accounts.

U.S. Foods is a food product and distribution company with more than 250,000 customers, including independent and multi-unit restaurants, health care and hospitality entities, government and educational institutions. The company offers more than 350,000 products, including exclusive brands such as Chef's Line and Rykoff Sexton, according to the news release.

The transaction is expected to close in early August, and terms were not disclosed, according to the news release.

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billbtri5 wrote on July 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hawkeye "was" the largest independent...