More than 100 years of history connecting Boulangerie Gadoua to the people of Napierville was not enough to save the factory in Monterrey, the cradle of the Quebec company.
Last week, Toronto-based Wonderbrands, a subsidiary of giant FGF Brands, announced the permanent closure of a sliced bread factory where generations of workers have worked since it was founded in 1911.
“We didn’t expect this at all, said Hugo Rosset, who we met on Monday in front of the factory while smoking a cigarette. We found out at 7 in the morning on our way home. Again, joining new employees the night before… it was a surprise for me, like everyone here. »
That day, the professional oven operator learned that, like nearly 150 workers at the bread factory, he would lose his job in three months… and this, along with his spouse, was also an employee of Gadaua. A blow to the couple.
“They gave us 12 weeks notice, we have to continue working. But no compensation. After 25 years with the same employer, I can tell you it’s not easy. »
Area in shock
The shock seemed to be shared by all the residents of the small municipality of 7000 inhabitants during our visit. “The Gadoua family is still in Napierville. It touches me deeply. We all have someone who works at Gadoua. We are associated with the company, it comes to touch us,” MRC Jardins-de-Napierville Prefect Yves Boyer told us on Monday, still under the emotional impact.
The same surprise awaits at Napierville City Hall, located in the same building where the first Gadoua Bakery was born. Mayor Chantale Pelletier, met at the site, had no words to express her disappointment.
“The current employers did not call us to ask for help or to inform us of any problems. If we had known, we could have done something,” she said, worrying about the future of the factory’s former employees. “Finding yourself without a job, in the current context of the current recession, Nobody wants that. »
Wonderbrands declined to give us an interview, citing an emailed statement confirming that operations at the factory had ended in mid-April.
“We have made significant efforts over the past few years to invest in and improve plant operations. However, despite these efforts, the plant presents many insurmountable difficulties (…)”, the company said, adding that it is also committed to maintaining its production operations in Longueuil and Gatineau.
Marie-Claude Provost, a 44-year-old shop steward and packer operator, confirmed that none of the employees who had to lose their jobs in Napierville were guaranteed jobs at other plants.
“It affects everyone. But it’s worse for employees with 30 to 40 years of experience. For them, it’s more emotional. Many cried and I understand them. »
A lack of effort to modernize the plant in recent decades, in his opinion, explains the closure. “When a plant is old and the investments are not equal, we end up with productivity that does not match its counterparts. I think the same thing happened here. »
Before the factory closes its doors for good, elected officials from the region are hoping for an emergency meeting with Quebec to explore various options for recovery. With a little luck, they think, could another company take advantage of the impending availability of 150 workers?
GADOUA in brief
Foundation Place: Napierville, Monteregi
Factory Area: 6600 square meters
Current Number of Employees: 100 to 150 employees
Some important dates
1911 The foundation of the organization by Wilfrid Gadowa
2004 The Gadaua family sells the business to the Weston Company
2021 Weston will sell the business to FGF Brands, the parent company of Wonderbrands
2023 On the morning of January 11, Wonderbrands management announced the closure to employees. The plant will definitely stop production in April.