By: Frank Antosiewicz
December 9, 2011
NEENAH, WIS. (Dec. 9, 11:55 a.m. ET) — Bemis Co. Inc., North America’s largest film and sheet maker, will be shuttering three of its smaller plants in the first half of 2012, according to a company executive.
The publicly traded company will close plants in Oshkosh, Wis., and Flemington, N.J., in January, along with a facility in Longview, Texas, by the end of May. It means the layoff of 22 workers in Oshkosh, 70 in Flemington, and 109 in Longview.
The New Jersey and Texas sites manufacture polyethylene packaging, while Oshkosh does stretch film.
“Bemis has an optimization program that was started after we acquired the Alcan business about 1½ years ago. We are working feverishly to integrate their business and make sure they are in the best places for our customers,” said Melanie Miller, vice president and treasurer.
In a Dec. 8 telephone interview, Miller said the work will be transferred to larger Bemis-owned facilities. The firm employs 20,000 and operates 82 manufacturing sites worldwide. In March 2010, Bemis finalized a $1.2 billion deal to buy the Food Americas operations of Alcan Packaging from Rio Tinto plc of London.
Miller said Neenah, Wis.-based Bemis has given affected employees time to prepare, and has worked with the local communities regarding the transition. Longview plant employees were notified in early December of that closure, which will begin in March and conclude by May 31. All layed-off workers can apply for jobs at other Bemis plants, she said.
Bemis has more than 4,000 employees working at its various Oshkosh plants.
Miller said the company plans to sell the Texas and New Jersey facilities. The Oshkosh plant will be kept for future expansion of another Bemis operation located across the street from it. The company will relocate some of the closed plants’ equipment to other facilities and dispose of the rest.
She said the firm is working with customers so as not to disrupt product flow.
In the firm’s third-quarter report, President and CEO Henry Theisen said, “During the third quarter, unit volumes decreased in nearly every market category, reflecting the concerns about softness in demand that our customers had expressed earlier in the year.”
He said higher grocery prices led to lower unit volumes on product categories for which Bemis provides packaging and that the firm expects that trend to continue into the fourth quarter.