The Journal Gazette
 
 
Friday, May 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Sodexo loses contract, will close

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

A Huntington food service contractor will close in early July, potentially putting 71 employees out of work, according to a filing with the state.

Sodexo Inc. officials this week notified the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that the company lost its contract with Huntington University. 

The operation at 502 Lake St., Huntington, will stop serving the campus community about July 5, according to a letter signed by Philip Amberg, director of human resources for the company’s university service division.

The closure is expected to be permanent, but Amberg said the company’s competitors typically hire the previous contractor’s hourly workers. The operation in Huntington feeds students living in the college’s dormitories.

Chartwells, a competitor, won the contract, Amberg said during a phone interview Friday. That company provides food service on dozens of U.S. campuses ranging from Anderson University to Xavier University, including IUPUI, according to its website.

"The jobs aren’t leaving the university," he said about Huntington. "The students have to be fed."

Positions being affected are 68 food service workers, an executive chef, a catering manager and a general manager. Amberg declined to say how much the workers are paid.

The news comes as Huntington, a city of about 17,000, faces losing about 700 highly paid factory jobs within the next two years.

United Technologies Electronic Controls officials in February announced plans to move about 700 jobs to Mexico beginning in the middle of next year. The company makes controls for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration units.

Although officials have said that many of the UTEC workers don’t live in Huntington, the city southwest of Fort Wayne is expected to take an economic hit after the operation downsizes. About 100 positions will remain in the Huntington area, including UTEC’s headquarters, engineering and product marketing organizations.

Economic development officials throughout northeast Indiana are coordinating efforts to ease UTEC employees’ transition into other jobs. Huntington officials weren’t available Friday afternoon to say whether they expect to lend Sodexo workers similar assistance.

Sodexo employs about 440,000 workers in 80 countries placed at 9,000 client sites. The French company, which has annual revenue of about $22 billion, offers diverse services, including financial management, air quality monitoring, travel planning, diversity consulting, landscaping, valet parking and food service. 

sslater@jg.net

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