Employees at three Northwest beverage distributors have received notices of pending layoffs.

Employees at three Northwest beverage distributors have received notices of pending layoffs.

More than 160 Medford workers are among the 2,625 in Oregon and Washington who could lose their jobs as a result of the merger of Mt. Hood Beverage, Columbia Distributing Co. and Gold River Distributing.

When the three firms combine to form Portland-based CoHo Distributing, operations will cease at about 25 distribution centers. All of the layoffs may not be permanent as the three firms integrate operations over the next few years.

Layoffs scheduled to begin Sept. 15 could idle 117 Gold River employees at 501 Airport Road and 46 workers at Columbia Distributing, 4621A Gruman Drive, both in Medford.

Gold River is the area's largest distributor, followed by Western Beverage and Columbia Distribution.

Lindy Bartell, a spokeswoman for the three companies, said the notices were sent to comply with federal law, and the distributors have yet to determine how many workers will be needed.

The merger, which must be approved by the companies' suppliers, is expected to take place in early September. Workers were told they will need to re-apply for their jobs when their existing companies go away and CoHo takes over.

The merger includes beer and non-alcoholic beverage distribution businesses in Oregon and Washington, but does not include wine distribution businesses.

Neither Brad Earl, who oversees Gold River's local operation, nor Kelly Rhodes, Columbia's Southern Oregon sales and operations director, could be reached Friday afternoon for comment.