"We've stuck together through the good times and the bad, we're like a family."
Shattered Fonterra worker Damien Noonan walked out of the century-old Dennington factory on Thursday with his 20 years of employment tucked into an A4 envelope.
Employees were offered counselling services and informed about their payouts at a second meeting since the closure was officially announced on Wednesday.
"It was a meeting about what they're going to put in place, our finances, the training, the services and counselling and such over the next six months during the wind-down," Mr Noonan said.
"People are pretty flat at the minute, we don't know what the future holds.
"There's a general feeling of gloom, to me it's a 110 year old factory and that's the real loss I think for the town.
"It's an icon of the town, it's like taking the Statue of Liberty from New York, it's just part of the furniture in Dennington. That's my real sadness about it all."
The news hasn't quite sunk in for the 52 year old manufacturer and his colleagues.
"People are still shocked, I think it was probably a bit early to call a meeting, it still hasn't processed yet," he said.
"They were quite nice about it all, it's just business, it is what it is."
The Noonan family ties to the factory run deep; his two brothers, his late father Frank Noonan and his grandfather Maurice Noonan all worked there.
"I've been here 20 years, my father worked here for 42 years and my brother works here and my other brother did work here, and that's the thing, generations have been through the place," he said.
"My dad was a union delegate for 35 years and he played a big part in the good conditions at the place, he was here in the early days and while he's gone now he's a big part of this factory.
"Generations have come through here, fathers and their grandfathers have worked here, my grandfather worked here too, that's where I think people are feeling the real hurt."
Mr Noonan described the announcement as akin to a 'final graduation where you all have to move away.'
"It's a great workplace, we're all friends, we're not just work colleagues," he said.
"I've got lifelong friends here and that's the sad part, separation of the friendships. You don't see them everyday anymore.
"They're breaking up a community, it feels a bit like a final graduation where you all have to move away."
They're breaking up a community, it feels a bit like a final graduation where you all have to move away.Damien Noonan
Employees now have some time off to begin sorting out future employment.
There's been talk of relocating some employees to the Cobden Fonterra factory.
"That's all part of the redeployment for the people who want to go down that track, but it's all still a bit raw," Mr Noonan said.
"I'm 52, I've got a little bit behind me, there's a lot of people worse off than me who have young families and that. I've got a 15 year old daughter, but we'll be alright."
Mr Noonan said there's no feeling of animosity towards Fonterra from the majority of the workers.
"I've got no anger towards any of it, it's a decision they had to make, we're all just feeling philosophical and have to keep going," he said.
"It's big business, it's the world we live in. People are made redundant every day all over the world and I suppose we were the next ones.
"There's no malice because everyone's gone, we're all in the same boat and I think that's why there's no real anger at all, just sadness."
He said the writing has been on the wall for some time now.
"I think the fact that we saw it coming maybe softened the blow a little," Mr Noonan said.
"We've been pretty quiet for the last couple of years. There's no milk, there's been drought and the rest of it.
"We thought we might have been bought by another company maybe, but it doesn't appear to be so.
"There's six months to go so we'll see how we pan out."
End of an era for pair
JASON McDonough is lost for words when asked about what his future holds.
The 45-year-old has worked at Fonterra's Dennington factory for 25 years.
"I'm one of three generations who worked here - my grandfather worked here for 38 years and my father worked here for 30," Mr McDonough said.
"My father gave me a tour here when I was 10, I reckon, and I said 'I wouldn't mind working here'."
Mr McDonough said he was shocked by the decision to close the factory.
"It's shocking, I'm devastated."
Mr McDonough said he has a young family to support.
He said he was concerned the closure would come in the lead up to Christmas.
"One bloke said yesterday 'that's a good merry Christmas to us'."
Mr McDonough said he didn't see the closure coming, even planning an overseas holiday in January - something he now has reservations about due to finances.
Anthony Bourke was set to mark 43 years at the factory in November.
The 63-year-old said he was aware the factory was not working at capacity, but he had no idea the company would close it.
"We do shift work - four on and four off - and we were under the impression that they would go back to a five day week and we would keep our jobs and just ride through the drought.
"It's a pretty big smack in the mouth."
Mr Bourke said he would go into early retirement and it's the younger people he feels for.
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