Sinton Dairy to lay off 120 in Colorado Springs as it ends milk production

Sinton Dairy on Sinton Rd. in Colorado Springs. Lala USA, which bought Sinton in 2009 as part of its purchase of National Dairy, plans to rebrand Sinton and its other regional brands under the Borden name. Photo by THE GAZETTE

A Colorado Springs business whose roots date back to just a few years after the city's 1871 founding will undergo a significant downsizing.

Sinton Dairy Foods will lay off 120 employees, or two-thirds of its local workforce, during the next two months as it exits the fresh milk production business and shifts to making extended-shelf-life milk, Sinton's owner announced Monday.

The Colorado Springs-based dairy will continue to produce cottage cheese and sour cream at its plant at 3801 Sinton Road, and immediately is beginning "a major investment" to produce a different kind of milk that will last three times longer on store shelves, said Fred Stern, a spokesman for Borden Dairy Co., Sinton's parent company in Dallas. The longer shelf life results from how the milk is pasteurized and packaged, he said.

Sinton has notified the International Brotherhood of Teamsters - the union that represents its employees - of the layoff; affected workers will receive a severance package and other transition benefits, Stern said. Officials from Teamsters Local 455 in Denver did not respond to a call and email seeking comment.

"We believe by moving our production and distribution towards higher-value products such as cultured products and extended-shelf-life milk, we can better ensure the long-term future for the Sinton plant," an email Monday from Borden Dairy Co. stated.

Employees were notified Monday of the layoffs, which include workers at the Colorado Springs plant and distribution facilities in Denver and Eagle.

Stern said laid-off employees can reapply and would be considered for an undetermined number of jobs when production begins early next year on the extended-shelf-life milk. He declined to reveal how much the company is spending on the retooling.

Sinton distributes cottage cheese, sour cream and other cultured dairy products under the Nordica, Sinton and Borden brands. The dairy distributes fresh milk under the Borden and private-label brands primarily in Colorado.

Sinton Dairy was started by George and Melvin Sinton in 1880 with 12 red cows, which produced 14 quarts of milk a day that were delivered by a horse-drawn cart to Springs residents.

The business was incorporated in 1906 and operated by Sinton family members for decades until it was sold to Associated Grocers in 1980. Dairy Farmers of America, a cooperative of more than 24,000 dairy farmers, and Sinton's management bought Sinton after Associated Grocers filed for bankruptcy in 1987.

National Dairy Holdings LP bought half of Sinton in 2003 and was acquired in 2009 by Lala USA, a unit of Mexico City-based dairy giant Grupo Lala SAB; Lala operates in the U.S. as Borden Dairy.

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