In the wake of one injection molder leaving Dundalk, Ireland, another has stepped in to fill the gap. Key Tronic Corp. of Spokane, Wash., an injection molder of computer keyboards, is restructuring its manufacturing operations by transferring much of that segment to Ju rez, Mexico. The firm will leave its sales, marketing and customer service departments in Dundalk.
Some 24 hours after Key Tronic's announcement, Engineered Plas-tic Components Europe Ltd. announced it will start an injection molding operation in Dun-dalk to serve the auto industry.
Key Tronic will reduce its work force in the 100,000-square-foot Dundalk plant from 391 to 75 employees. Some equipment will be moved to Ju rez while other machinery will be sold rather than moved.
Spokeswoman Kathleen Ne-meth said the transition should be complete by year's end. The Dundalk plant will retain some end-processing work, such as printing and distribution.
Key Tronic decided to move the bulk of the manufacturing to Ju rez because of a ``much lower cost base and the [computer keyboards] are being shipped there now for finishing,'' Nemeth said.
``Losses from our operations in Dundalk had to be eliminated and our plant in Ju rez offers us that opportunity,'' said Fred Wen-ninger, Key Tronic's chief executive officer. ``To further increase our flexibility, Key Tronic is exploring options for establishing our own Asian presence to complement our facilities in Spokane, Wash., Dundalk, Ireland, Las Cruces, N.M, and Ju rez, Mexico,'' he said in a press release.
The company, which also has a warehouse in El Paso, Texas, employs 2,337 at its North Amer-ican facilities. Although the firm declined to reveal how many injection presses it has, it injection molds liquid silicon rubber and thermoplastics such as ABS, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyester, acetal, nylon and acrylic.
Key Tronic, which claims to be the largest U.S. producer of computer keyboards and other input devices, serves original equipment manufacturers, mainly large computer companies.
Meanwhile, according to a May 17 article in the Irish Times, EPC of Mattawan, Mich., will employ nearly 300 within five to six years at its new facility in Dundalk. Initially, the company will use 25,000 of an existing 80,000-square-foot facility to injection mold connectors for car electrical distribution systems. Over time, EPC is expected to grow into the rest of the plant, said Michael Flod of the Industrial Develop-ment Authority Ireland.
EPC is 50 percent owned by Alcoa Fujicura, a Japan-based company in Dundalk. AFL makes components for car electrial distribution systems and specializes in switching parts for the automotive industry. EPC makes the connectors for the electrical systems. As well, it has a toolroom to design and manufacture tooling for the industry, Flod added.
EPC and AFL will serve Ford Motor Co. in Europe and the automotive industry in Europe.
Gene Norden, project manager, said worker recruitment will be done very slowly, and that there are well-qualified people in the town. He also added that the possibility that some Key Tronic workers will be hired is good.
According to Flod, EPC had been investigating the European market and Key Tronic's decision to leave Dundalk played a key factor in EPC's decision to locate there. Flod also emphasized that Dundalk's employees skilled in engineering and electronics are important to EPC.
EPC and IDA have jointly invested 21 million ($31.8 million) in the project. IDA will oversee the EPC operation.
``IDA will see that EPC meets its agreement with its output and the number of new jobs it creates,'' said Flod.
Some equipment has been purchased from Key Tronic, though the number and kinds were not released from EPC. Flod also did not know the specifics about the machines and the type of plastic processed.
EPC was established in 1986 and has two plants in the United States, employing 620.
Officials at the Mattawan plant refused to comment on the Dundalk project.