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Two South Jersey companies announce layoffs

Pennsauken is facing a double blow of job losses.

Pennsauken is facing a double blow of job losses.

National Vision Inc., a Lawrenceville, Ga., eyeglasses retailer, has told the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development that it will close its Pennsauken lab at the end of July, forcing 213 out of work.

A second company, LiDestri Foods Inc., of Fairport, N.Y., held out some hope that the 146 job losses at its South Jersey factory, which makes sauces sold nationally under other companies' brand names, would be temporary.

Privately held LiDestri, which in April bought M.H. Zeigler & Sons Inc., the Lansdale apple cider maker, plans to use the Pennsauken plant to expand its beverage lines, Dave Stoklosa, the company's director of business development, said Wednesday.

"The problem is, I don't need 146 people in the short term," Stoklosa said. But he said he sees the Pennsauken plant employing more than 146 in two years, "significantly more." The cuts will occur by July 22, a notice to the state said, leaving about a dozen workers there.

Zeigler's Lansdale facility, where 50 people work, is not in danger of being closed, he said, because it has specialized equipment for handling apples. "It's equipment that's not easy to move," he said.

LiDestri, which started in 1975 as Cantisano Foods, is consolidating sauce production in Fairport, a suburb of Rochester, because it was inefficient to have two plants so close together, Stoklosa said.

Only a few of the Pennsauken workers took LiDestri up on an offer to transfer to New York, where the company plans to hire as many as it is laying off in New Jersey.

Overall, LiDestri has 800 employees. In addition to plants in Fairport and Rochester, it has one in Fresno, Calif.

National Vision did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for further information about its layoff warning. The company's website says it operates 600 retail locations in 44 states.

National Vision employs 600 in eyeglass labs, the website says. In addition to Pennsauken, the labs are in Minnesota, Georgia, China, and Mexico.

Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or