One year later, Waterloo Hostess employees find new normal
Written by Nikki Newbrough, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
It's been one year since Hostess Brands decided to shut down nationwide, leaving more than 18,000 people without a job, including dozens in Waterloo.
Although Twinkies returned to the shelves in July, the Waterloo facility never reopened.
Kent Zingg worked at the Hostess Bakery in Waterloo for 26 years until November 16th, 2012.
"To tell you the truth, I started crying. I did. I cried. I mean it was such a stressful time at work," said Zingg.
The closure came after officials said they couldn't financially survive a nationwide strike.
That strike came after several contract disputes between the company and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union. Although the Waterloo workers never left the job to strike, they were still out of a job.
"My goal in life was to retire from Wonder Bread and become an art teacher," said Zingg.
Zingg started working at the bakery when he was 22 years old. He was four years from retirement. Now, the 49-year-old is forced to switch gears.
"I can go in and I can make you an awesome loaf of bread. I can run a factory and I can run machinery, but that isn't a high demand in this area so I knew to be able to even come close to the wages I was making before that I would need an education," said Zingg.
Zingg decided to enroll in the HVAC program at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo.
"I get up at 4:00 in the morning. I study until 6:30 in the morning. I get my son ready and then I go to school," said Zingg.
Officials with the city say the iconic Hostess building was purchased by Flowers Foods. They bought that building along with a number of others nationwide.
Noel Anderson, Community Planning and Development Director, says the city has been in contact with the company about the future of it. He says they would like to redevelop it.
"The downtown master plan shows additional development there. That could mean commercial. That could mean a multistory building with first floor commercial and residential above," said Anderson.
Anderson says the city has told Flowers Foods it's interested in the company bringing a bakery operation to Waterloo. He says though they would not want it where the current Hostess facility is because there wasn't enough room for truck access.
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