Member of Meadow Brook's Founding Family Not Bitter About Plant Closing
Meadow Brook Dairy, a company founded in Erie 86 years ago, will be going out of business by the end of the year. 120 people may be out of work, as early as September.
The news came as a surprise to employees, who were notified this morning. The dairy, on Buffalo Road in Erie, is being closed by its parent company, Dean Foods, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. It's easy to blame an out-of-town company for closing an Erie plant, but that's not what a member of the founding family of Meadow Brook is doing.
Reverend Keith McGarvey's grandfather founded Meadow Brook Dairy in 1932. Reverend Keith's father took over the business in 1959, and Keith, himself, became president of the company in 1988. Meadow Brook was sold to Dean Foods in 1993.
McGarvey says there were feelings of sadness today when he heard the news about the upcoming closing. He said there's sadness because of all the memories he has from the plant throughout his life. But, he says there's no bitterness towards Dean Foods because, he says, Dean Foods was able to keep the plant open much longer than his family ever could.
McGarvey says his family established the Country Fair chain of stores as a place to sell Meadow Brook milk because home deliveries were becoming a thing of the past. He says today, markets such as Walmart are opening their own dairies, and it's tough for even a big corporation like Dean Foods to keep up.
"It was pretty clear the industry and the world were changing. I'm just delighted that Dean was able to keep it in operation here for as long as they did. I am sorry for the jobs that are being lost. I'm sorry for the economy. I'm sorry for the memories. But, I was glad they kept it going for as long as they did," says McGarvey.
Employees were told not to speak to the news media about the closing. A of late Tuesday afternoon, Dean Foods has still not issued a news release to Erie News Now, and have not answered phone calls.