Defunct Hostess leaves local distributor without job
Pop culture was seemingly obsessed, and comically consumed, with the recent news that Hostess Brands — makers of snack-food icons such as Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs — would be closing after more than 80 years in business.
But the abrupt dissolution of the company caused an unfunny ripple effect affecting small-scale distributors nationwide, including local Hostess distributor David Romine, who is now without a job.
“It’s just basically in the last three days that this whole thing fell apart. It was something that was completely out of our control,” Romine said last week.
His independent, non-union company, Tri-County Distributors, stocked Hostess products in more than 270 convenience stores and all the major grocery chains across western Colorado.
His company distributed Hostess brands and Wonder Bread for eight years in Grand Junction, Delta, Fruita and Montrose. His was the second-largest distributor outside of Denver in the region, Romine said. He even stocked displays at area Carl’s Jr. and Sonic restaurants.
Delivery trucks from Denver arrived four times a week in Grand Junction and in Montrose twice a week. Romine and his team spread the goods from there.
At one time the company counted eight delivery trucks, but the downturn in the economy forced Romine to scale back a few years ago. In the end, the company was down to three trucks and five employees.
“It’s a great way to make a living,” Romine said, somewhat wistfully.
Hostess Brands Inc. shuttered its plants and left about 18,500 direct employees without jobs earlier this month, unable to agree to a contract with a union representing the company’s bakers.
A last-ditch effort at negotiations collapsed last week, essentially sealing the fate of the long-standing iconic company.
Romine said the company’s other major group of union employees, the Teamsters, who were able to negotiate contracts with Hostess for their members, warned the bakers’ union ahead of time.
He said that the Teamsters had seen the company’s financials and warned the bakers that if they didn’t come back to work by the arranged deadline, Hostess would indeed have to liquidate.
“The bakers’ union just ignored the warning from the Teamsters,” Romine said, and Hostess shut down the company in mere days.
Asked how much hope he has to someday distribute Hostess products again, Romine said he has “none.”
Asked what his immediate future holds, he said, “I have no idea. I’m in a job-search mode right now.”
As many in the media have predicted, Romine agreed the demise of Hostess probably doesn’t mean you’ve eaten your last Twinkie.
“The brands won’t leave the market. Somebody will pick up the brands,” he said.
“But an 85-year-old company is gone.”