Beatrice plant shuts down, lays off 100-plus employees

By: Bill Schammert

For people like Stephanie Fugett, the news was expected.

“All those jobs lost, it’s just sad,” she said.

She was among the more than 100 employees at Store Kraft Manufacturing in Beatrice who were told there services were no longer needed. The store that’s been in the city for more than 90 years is closing its doors.

“It was instant tears, like what now?” Fugett asked. “I just don’t know what my future holds.”

Fugett had been with the company for 17 years, most of her adult life, she says. 

She says employees were told the company just wasn’t making enough money anymore. It had hopes of selling as late as last Friday, but the deal didn’t go through.

We reached out to Store Kraft for comment, but didn’t receive one. 

Beatrice Mayor Dennis Schuster says the company had fallen on hard times. He says, through a block grant, the city loaned Store Kraft more than $250,000 back in May. Now, he doesn’t know if Beatrice will be paid back.

“That’s very unlikely,” Schuster said. “We are very low on the list of creditors to the company.”

Schuster says the city doesn’t have any aid programs available, but encourages everyone to check out the workforce development programs.

“We want to keep the jobs in Beatrice,” he said.

As for Fugett, she says she’ll likely look toward Lincoln and be forced to commute. Living paycheck to paycheck, she says she has no time to waste in looking for a new job to help support her husband and two daughters. Still, she holds no animosity toward the company that’s been a Beatrice staple for nearly 100 years.

“We are one big family,” she said. “And in 20 years, we’ll still be a family.”