Ertl Co. Inc. will consolidate production of its AMT-brand plastic model kits at its Tijuana, Mexico, plant to save labor costs. Ertl will move some of its injection molding equipment from Dyersville, Iowa, to Tijuana, where it has molded the kits for more than 12 years, said Wayne Keegan, vice president of administration.
The move should lead to full-year molding in Tijuana rather than six months of model-kit work at both its Dyersville and Mexico plants, where it does its injection molding, he said.
Keegan said his company will keep some molding in Dyersville, for making plastic components for collectible tractor models and other toys. He had no details on molding capacity in Dyersville or Tijuana. The move will be complete by April.
About half of Dyersville's 600 members of the United Auto Workers will lose jobs in the move. They earn about $9.50 an hour, compared with $1.50 in Tijuana. Dyersville employs about 1,000 and also makes die-cast metal models and toys. Its operations in the Far East also do die casting.
Dennis Doty, editor of Model Car Journal, said Ertl had quality problems with Mexico-molded kits about 10 years ago ``but I hope the Mexican operation is better now.'' He said Ertl has made ``blunders,'' such as improper dimensions, in a few of its recent kit introductions, that hobbyists criticized.
Doty was complimentary about Revell-Monogram Inc., Ertl's chief rival. He said the Morton Grove, Ill., firm has introduced popular kits and its year-long owner Hallmark Cards Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., has been investing money in the unit. Revell-Monogram officials could not be reached for comment.
UAW Local 1982 said its members tried to introduce cost-cutting measures but ``Ertl Co. did not draw on its biggest asset, its employees.'' It claimed Ertl's profit will exceed $10 million this year. Ertl is owned by U.S. Industries Inc. of Iselin, N.J.