Distribution firm discounts rumors

Rumors that L&R Distributors’ SAJ Division in Pine Bluff is closing or that there will be layoffs are just that and unfounded, SAJ General Manager Baylor Guy told The Commercial on Friday.

“That’s not true,” Guy said when advised of the information that had been given to the newspaper. He said the Pine Bluff facility is “evaluating” its sales staff for possible continued restructuring and that more changes could be coming, but that Brooklyn-headquartered L&R has blueprints for increased business here.

Guy said L&R, which also has distribution centers in Deer Park, N.Y., and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., views its Pine Buff operation as “the Central U.S. distribution hub.”

SAJ was formerly affiliated with the Pine Bluff-based USA Drug regional pharmacy chain owned by Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings Inc. In September 2012, Walgreen Company completed a $438 million purchase of LaFrance’s chain, which included Super D Drug and Med-X pharmacies.

SAJ wound up being acquired by L&R, which was founded in 1956 and is a national distributor of more than 30,000 products and serves more than 7,000 distribution points within the supermarket, drug and mass classes of trade throughout the country.

Guy did not give a current SAJ employee count but said the facility has been adjusting “as we operate with a much tighter profit margin.”

Guy said he’s sold on the company.

“I believe in SAJ,” he said, “and I believe in Pine Bluff.”

He said he’s attended recent L&R board meetings and knows that SAJ is a primary focus of its parent firm.

“We’re looking to bring in more business by early next year,” Guy said. “We have a great team in place.”