By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta and Sauces, a home-grown food-maker since 1991, is the latest local company to feel the sting of the slow economy.
A total of 73 workers were laid off last week at the Primrose Street facility — 63 hourly employees and 10 salaried workers, said Roz O’Hearn, a spokeswoman for the Nestle corporation in Ohio. Nestle, the world’s largest food corporation, bought the Joseph’s operation in 2006.
O’Hearn said employees were notified Oct. 3 of the “workforce adjustment.”
The layoffs leave 318 workers remaining at the pasta-making plant, she said.
“The economy is slowly improving, but consumers remain frugal and competition continues to be very active,” O’Hearn said. “All these factors impacted us, so we took action.”
O’Hearn said the company would try to bring back workers in the future if business improves, but that there are no plans for that at this time.
David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s aide, said the mayor’s office learned of the layoffs yesterday. He said he was told by local company officials the layoffs were due to a product change.
“They are always trying to be innovative over there, which is great,” Van Dam said. “But apparently one of the new products didn’t do too well, so they discontinued it. That led to them having to let some people go.”
Joseph’s boasts of being the nation’s largest maker of filled pasta. The company’s products are served at restaurants throughout the United States.
“No doubt most of the people who lost their jobs are residents, so we hate to see that,” Van Dam said of the layoffs. “But hopefully things will improve for them and they can bring some of the (workers) back.”
The business was started in 1991 by Joseph Faro Jr., shortly after he graduated from college. His plant used to be on Hale Street, at the former Star Paper Co., but moved to its present quarters several years ago.
In 2010, Faro purchased a neighboring property that was formerly the home of Jackson Lumber Yard to provide more parking for workers at the pasta-making facility.