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McClatchy Newspapers

FRESNO, Calif. — Zacky Farms, a family-run company that rose to prominence as a leading turkey producer, has officially announced its closing plants in Fresno and Stockton.

About 1,000 workers will be impacted, a company official said.

The company posted a statement on its website, saying it struggled to remain profitable despite attempts to seek business and capital.

“...those exhaustive efforts have been unsuccessful and Zacky must now proceed with steps to cease operations. As Zacky winds down, it is presently expected that all operations will completely cease on January 19, 2019,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say: “The company understands that this is a difficult time for everyone (employees, customers, vendors, the community). We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has worked by the company’s side all these years. Thank you for being a part of the Zacky family and allowing us to continue for four generations; without you it would not have been possible.”

An employee of the Stockton plant, who asked not to be identified, said she was saddened by the news of the shutdown. The employee worked 15 years at the plant that produced hot dogs, bologna, salami and other turkey products.

“There are some people who have worked for Zacky for nearly 20 years and just like that they don’t have a job,” the worker said. “I had people crying on my shoulder, it just breaks my heart.”

The company told workers on Oct. 29 the two plants — the only ones the company has — were closing. About 140 people work at the Stockton plant and between 500 and 999 people work in Fresno, according to the Employment Development Department.

Founded in 1928 by Sam Zacky, the company was then known as Sam’s Poultry Market and was located in Los Angeles. The Zacky family business grew to include raising and processing poultry. In 1984, it bought Swift & Company that included a processing facility and cold storage, hatchery and ranches in the Fresno area.

At one time, the company employed at least 1,500 people and was one of the nation’s largest turkey farmers and processors. Last year, the company processed 82.96 million pounds of turkeys, according to industry statistics. The operation included plants in Fresno and Stockton.

But the turkey grower and processor has struggled over the years.

In 2001 it sold off its chicken business to rival Foster Farms, and in 2012 it filed for bankruptcy protection with debt estimated at $50 million to $100 million.

Record high feed prices were taking a toll on the company. At the time, Zacky was spending about $1.8 million weekly to feed 2.5 million turkeys and chickens. 

Although it secured a $25 million loan from a Connecticut-based finance company, Great Rock Capital, to help pay off debts and to fuel future growth, it wasn’t enough.

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