Fortis Plastics announces shutdown

By: Don Loepp

November 2, 2011

SOUTH BEND, IND. (Nov. 2, 11:20 p.m. ET) — Fortis Plastics LLC appears poised to shut down before the end of the year, announcing plans to close its corporate office and molding plant in South Bend.

The news comes just days after the company announced plans to close its Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Fort Smith, Ark., plants.

In layoff notifications filed with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the custom injection molder said it would permanently close its corporate office between Nov. 28 and Dec. 11, impacting 17 employees. The molding plant will permanently close between Dec. 9 and Dec. 23, impacting 71 employees.

The company blamed an “inability to secure additional capital,” although recent developments have made clear that lost work from some customers may also have played a role.

“Fortis continues to pursue every realistic opportunity to secure the capital necessary to keep the South Bend facility in operation, but Fortis’s management can make no guarantees as to the success of those efforts,” the company wrote in one layoff notice. The letters were dated Oct. 28, and the state of Indiana dislocated worker team received them on Nov. 2.

The company’s financial woes came to light in mid-October, when the company filed a notice with the city of Fort Smith warning that it would terminate 93 employees there starting Nov. 4-18 “because of an inability to secure additional capital.”

Then, a week later, the company notified the 142 workers in Poplar Bluff that their plant would close by Dec. 2.

Fortis Plastics customers include appliance major Whirlpool Corp. On Oct. 28, Whirlpool announced that it is closing its refrigerator plant in Fort Smith by mid-2012 and reduce its worldwide capacity by about 6 million units, the company announced Oct. 28.

Fortis Plastics officials have not returned Plastics News calls for comment.

Fortis Plastics formed in late 2008 when Monomoy Capital Partners LP of New York combined the Leggett & Platt Inc. plastics division and the Atlantis Plastics LLC.

Since that time, the company has closed six plants: Elkhart, Ind.; LaVergne, Tenn.; Alamo, Texas; Brownsville, Texas; Booneville, Miss.; and Henderson, Ky.