Monday, August 3, 2015

Will new Hostess boss lower heat at Wonder Bread maker?

Brian Driscoll, who sought pension cuts for workers and bonuses for himself in bankruptcy filings, is out, replaced by turnaround ace Gregory Rayburn

Will new Hostess boss lower heat at Wonder Bread maker?

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Workers at Hostess Brands are hoping last week's resignation of chief executive Brian J. Driscoll, who sought to cut retiree benefits by filing for federal bankruptcy protection in January, will lead to smoother labor relations at the bakery chain, which employs 19,000 making Twinkies and other snacks and breads nationally, including 300 at the former Acme bakery near Grant Ave. and Roosevelt Blvd., plus drivers at its King of Prussia, Wilmington and Atlantic City terminals.

New boss Gregory F. Rayburn, a turnaround specialist whose previous companies included Magna Entertainment Corp., Sunterra Corp., Worldcom Inc., Muzak Holdings Inc. and NYC Off Track Betting Corp., joined the company from Kobi Partners last month as an adviser last month and took the top job after Driscoll resigned.

Besides reorganization, Driscoll had sought court approval for a $1.2 million pay package and annual bonuses up to $2 million, which lawyers for the Teamsters who face benefit cuts had opposed. Statement from Teamsters, which represents Hostess drivers, here.

The Philadelphia plant makes Wonder Bread and Nature's Pride breads, Donettes, Ho-Hos, and brand-name breads for Acme, Target, and New York Yankees-brand hot dog rolls, among others. Veteran bakers, represented by the Bakery, Tobacco & Confectionary Workers' Local 6, take home up to $500 a week after paying benefits, according to sources at the plant. 

Hostess spokesman Erik Halvorson declined comment beyond the company's statement.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, distefano251@gmail.com, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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