Amoroso: We'll keep Philly plant, make drivers buy routes

Len Amoroso, boss-owner of Amoroso's Baking Co., sent a note this morning confirming my report he's replacing the current workforce of 77 Philadelphia-based delivery drivers with "a new distribution system" which he calls "a great opportunity" for his company and its "Driver Salesmen" to "keep our great brand viable and competitve for years to come." A few details:

"We will be entering into relationships with over sixty individual corporate distributors, most of whom are our current Driver Salesmen who have been given the first opportunity to participate in this new program.  

"They will own their own business and have an outstanding economic opportunity to increase both their income and the value of their business by providing the best customer service in the industry. 

"In addition, Amoroso’s is offering the resources and tools necessary to foster a smooth and easy transition into business ownership." (Translation: He's offering to loan them money so they can buy and stock their routes. He's not disclosing the terms.)

What's in it for customers? "We believe that this new distribution model will maintain the outstanding customer service that our customers enjoy today."

What about the Teamsters concern this could result in closing the 170-worker Amoroso plant at 55th and Baltimore? "While we are constantly looking for opportunities to improve the quality of our products and efficiency of our baking process, we have no plans or intentions of moving our bakery operation to Vineland, NJ, as was reported.  There are no truths to that rumor."

NEW: Why make the change now? "The reality is that the competitive landscape in the Delaware Valley has changed in recent years," with big national breadmakers muscling in even as high-end artisan bakers make inroads, Len's son Jesse, who works for the bakery in "business development," told me. "Many companies across the nation have gone to a similar model," he added. Tastykake made the switch to independents in 1985, says my colleague Harold Brubaker