Huntington prepares for Whirlpool plant closure

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JEANNETTE, PA. (Jan. 20, 10:35 a.m. ET) — When Whirlpool Corp. finally closes the doors in the next few months on its Fort Smith, Ark., facility, supplier Huntington Foam LLC will follow suit and shutter its supporting plant.

“Most of our [Fort Smith] business is with Whirlpool. It is almost a dedicated facility,” said Gary McLaughlin, president of Huntington Foam, in a telephone interview.

“We will be there to support them to the end,” he added, noting that it currently has a skeleton crew of 14 and is expecting to close in May or early June.

McLaughlin said Jeannette, Pa.-based Huntington has had a facility in Fort Smith for eight years and has had as many as 68 employees working there. Its fortunes in the city have risen and fallen with the local Whirlpool plant.

He said the company is working with local and state authorities so that its employees will get assistance as the jobs cease, so that Huntington workers will be able to find training or new jobs.

Some of the Whirlpool work might end up in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, and McLaughlin is hopeful that Huntington’s recently expanded plant there will benefit. He said Huntington boosted the size of its Ramos Arizpe facility from 65,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet in the middle of last year to add polypropylene capability for other customers. There is a Whirlpool plant nearby.

Huntington Foam was founded in 1992 in Huntington, W. Va. Its administrative and financial office is in Pennsylvania. It also has plants in Greenville, Miss.; Greer, S.C., and Guadalupe, Mexico. The South Carolina plant opened in early 2011.

McLaughlin said Huntington has diversified its customer base in recent years and does work in the automotive, appliance, consumer, electronics and medical markets.

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