Once a dominant presence in downtown Waterbury, Keurig Dr. Pepper has announced that it will not be reopening its Waterbury offices and approximately 200 workers previously based here will continue to work remotely.
The announcement was made to workers on Sept. 1, company spokeswoman Katie Gilroy confirmed.
“Keurig Dr Pepper employees that previously worked out of our leased office spaces in Waterbury will permanently work remotely, as they have done since the beginning of the pandemic,” Gilroy said in an email to Waterbury Roundabout. “Our Waterbury team members have been highly productive and effective in this model and their feedback was an important part of this decision.”
The company’s Waterbury offices at the Pilgrim Park complex have been closed since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted many workers nationwide and across Vermont to remote mode.
Gilroy emphasized that the company is not cutting positions with this decision, just moving ahead with employees no longer working out of the downtown office space. “There are no headcount reductions associated with this change, which involves [about] 200 employees that work across various corporate functions,” she said.
The decision comes as downtown merchants, restaurants and businesses look to turn the corner on the pandemic which has many struggling with staffing and shifting hours. The loss of daytime customers from offices such as Keurig Dr. Pepper and the state office complex has meant less foot traffic in Waterbury lunch spots, shops, etc.
Gov. Phil Scott said last month that his administration would be looking at when and how state workers might return to the Waterbury complex which pre-pandemic had upwards of 1,000 employees based there. Currently workers in public safety, emergency management and some offices are on site but most employees are still working remotely.
Meanwhile information technology consulting company MTX Group, based in Texas, recently announced it will open a northeast regional office and training-retreat facility in Waterbury Center. Local officials had hoped the company would select space in the downtown for its operation which is anticipated to include 250 workers within several years. MTX will lease former Keurig space on Suss Drive instead. MTX officials said hiring for that new office is to begin this month.
Gilroy said Keurig remains committed to Vermont where its physical plants will continue to grow in Chittenden County.
“We are centralizing our significant Vermont capital investments into our manufacturing locations in Williston and Essex, where we have added production lines and new state-of-the art equipment,” Gilroy said. “These locations represent our Center of Excellence for traditional coffee and specialty beverages for KDP.”
Keurig this week is hosting hiring events Thursday and Saturday to fill positions in Vermont. “We are actively hiring for operations and production roles in these manufacturing locations, including sign-on bonuses, benefits that start on the first day for full-time employees, and tuition reimbursement,” Gilroy said. Online information for the hiring events list sign-on bonuses ranging from $3,500 for production roles to $7,000 for night-shift maintenance positions.
It is unclear how much leased office space the Keurig decision will affect in downtown Waterbury. The Pilgrim Park complex once was dominated by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters production and offices. As the company evolved to Keurig and now Keurig Dr. Pepper, it gradually reduced its presence here.
Cabot Hosiery Mills based in Northfield has moved into former Keurig manufacturing space where it is distributing and making its Darn Tough signature brand of socks. Other new tenants in the complex include Northern Reliability energy storage, Vermont Beer Shepherd, and Central Vermont Gymnastics Academy.
Gilroy said she could not comment on Keurig’s leasing decisions or the size of the company’s workforce currently in Vermont. “As our total employment has grown to nearly 27,000 in the U.S. and in other global areas, we no longer provide specific details on headcount by geography,” she said.