Why this Utah grill company is cutting staff

The Utah-based company’s plan is included in a recent document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(Photo courtesy of Traeger Grills) Jeremy Andrus, president & CEO of Salt Lake City-based Traeger Grills.

Traeger Pellet Grills, a Utah-based company that makes outdoor grills and meal kits, is laying off staff to cut costs, according to a document recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On Monday, the company board “approved a planned reduction in workforce, as part of a plan to reduce the company’s costs and drive long-term operational efficiencies,” according to the document.

The company also plans to stop operation of Traeger Provisions, which sells meal kits, and is putting plans to manufacture its products in Mexico on hold.

The company expects the costs associated with the layoffs and ceasing production to run up to $7 million, according to the document.

It’s unclear how many employees the layoff will impact. A spokesperson there did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires disclosing layoffs to employees with 60 days notice when a company has 50 to 499 full-time workers, given the layoff will affect 33% of the employer’s total active workforce at a site. At Traeger, based on online posts, some employees have been notified already.

“So, after 3 years of working for Traeger … they have made the decision to part ways,” wrote one former employee in LinkedIn post Tuesday. “It’s not what I was expecting or hoping, I love Traeger with all my heart and I had planned on growing with the company.”

He said, though, that he doesn’t bear any hard feelings.

In 2014, Traeger received a tax incentive deal from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, which would allow the company to earn up to $503,537 in tax rebates after providing 164 jobs over seven years. It got another deal in 2020, worth up to $882,430 for 120 jobs over seven years.

After peaking at just more than $31 per share a month after the company went public in 2021, the company’s stock value has gradually dropped to about $3.70 per share today.

The company’s total revenue for the first quarter of 2022 was $223.7 million, a 5% decrease from the last quarter, according to documents submitted to the SEC. Traeger CEO Jeremy Andrus recently told The Verge that the company employs roughly 300 people in the Beehive State.

In 2019, Andrus wrote a piece in the Harvard Business Review about “cleaning up a toxic culture” in Traeger.

Andrus recounts that he arrived at work in 2014 to find one of the company trucks was on fire — he believed it was due to arson, he wrote. At the time, Andrus had recently announced that the company would outsource delivery to UPS and laid off several dozen trucking employees. “The news hadn’t gone over well,” Andrus wrote.

Following that, Andrus bought out the company’s majority owner and moved the headquarters to Salt Lake City, firing and replacing most of the staff.

The company had about 90 employees remaining in Oregon at the time. They “graded people as positive cultural leaders, neutral, or cultural detractors” and fired those considered detractors, Andrus wrote in the Harvard Business Review article.

Leto Sapunar is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.