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Upside to Hostess’ end

Tue., Dec. 4, 2012

Spokane Franz Bakery boosts workers, output

The Spokane Franz Bakery has added jobs and increased production of bread and buns after bankrupted Hostess Brands closed a bakery in eastern Montana.

Hostess in November shut down 33 bakeries and 527 bakery outlet stores across the country. One was a Sweetheart-branded bakery in Billings, which produced buns and bread only.

Franz, which is part of United States Bakery, based in Portland, has added workers and extra shifts to its production schedule, said Tim Harper, the bakery’s Spokane division general manager.

The Spokane Franz Bakery, on Fancher Road in Spokane Valley, makes and distributes bread and buns across Eastern Washington, Montana and parts of eastern Oregon.

“We added a few shifts here at the bakery due to the Hostess situation,” said Harper.

The Spokane bakery, when operating at full production, produces close to half a million loaves or buns per week.

Winter is normally a down period and some of the bakery workers are seasonally let go, Harper said.

But with Hostess shutting down in Montana, some of those workers have been called back and added to extra shifts.

“We’ve recalled people who were laid off due to the seasonal winter change in production we usually have,” Harper said.

Harper said he’s not free to disclose the number of workers added in recent weeks.

In the summer Spokane Valley’s Franz workforce rises to more than 200 workers.

In the winter the number typically falls to about 180 people, Harper said.

The largest part of the bread market in this region involves deliveries to grocery stores and commercial bakeries run by Fred Meyer, Safeway and others.

Hostess also had a Boise bakery division, but that plant produced cakes, not bread, Harper said. Since that Boise plant wasn’t producing bread for Idaho, that closure won’t affect the Spokane Valley company, Harper said.

Any impact from the Boise closure will be felt by the Franz cake-making unit in the Seattle area, said Harper.

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