STE. MARIE DE BEACE, QUEBEC - Maax Inc. closed is Xatec subsidiary after a lengthy strike caused it to lose contracts for industrial composite parts. Maax announced the closure Aug. 16 but stressed the Xatec operation in Tring Jonction, Quebec, was small. Placide Poulin, Maax's president, said in a telephone interview that Xatec's annual production of composite transportation parts was worth about C$1.5 million (US$1.1 million), about 1 percent of Maax's projected sales this year. Xatec, the firm's only operation making industrial parts, was unable to absorb such a loss, he said.
Maax lost the contracts to supply transportation products companies such as Bombardier Inc. of Montreal. Xatec's other work, making molds for other Maax subsidiaries, will be done by the subsidiaries themselves, Poulin said from his company's head office in Ste. Marie de Beace.
About 25 Xatec employees struck on June 19 to demand their first collective agreement as a union local of the Central Syndicat Democratique. Two of Maax's eight other plants are unionized, one under the CSD.
Poulin expects Maax will recuperate lost industrial sales through growth in its core bathware businesses. It wants to establish a new operation in the midwestern United States, and is evaluating acquisition and greenfield opportunities. Poulin predicted officials will decide on a location in a month or two.
Empire contracts outside molding help
DELRAY BEACH, FLA. - Toy producer Empire of Carolina Inc. is relying temporarily on outside molders to make some of its plastic parts.
The Delray Beach company said it experienced production problems because of delays in the installation and startup of new equipment at its Tarboro, N.C., plant and because of a shutdown caused by recent Hurricane Bertha. In an Aug. 7 news release it did not provide further details. Company officials could not be reached for comment.
Empire also said its senior vice president of manufacturing was diagnosed recently with a serious illness and went on medical leave July 12. Marvin Smoller, Empire's president and chief operating officer, has assumed manufacturing responsibility for the Tarboro operation.
Empire said setbacks occurred while Tarboro, its main plant, was boosting production to meet the seasonal demand surge. They will adversely affect financial results in the third and fourth quarter. For the first six months, ended June 30, the firm recorded a net loss of $3.9 million and sales of $55.6 million.
Bookkeeper faces embezzlement charges
FINCASTLE, VA. - A woman believed to have diverted up to $100,000 to her own use while working as a bookkeeper for Groggins Plastics Co. in Fincastle was being held Aug. 19 in a state psychiatric facility.
Botetourt County Sheriff Reed Kelly said Annis Jane Hightower, age unknown, was hired by Groggins 16 months ago. She used the alias Jenna Drum. Kelly said Hightower was hired after responding to Groggins' newspaper advertisement for a bookkeeper.
Officials said Hightower has used more than one alias in the past. The woman told authorities she had been released from the Texas women's penitentiary in October 1994 and had been hired shortly after that by the city of Houston's payroll department, where she worked a few months, Kelly said.
Hightower was being held without bond under a criminal temporary detaining order. She faces eight local embezzlement-related charges and a fugitive warrant from Houston, Kelly said. Other charges are pending.
Groggins officials declined to comment on the case.
Fire strikes plastics recycler Spectrum
MANSFIELD, TEXAS - Lightning struck a pile of polypropylene at a recycling plant Aug. 10, resulting in a blaze that took about 50 firefighters five hours to control.
The portion of the pile of PP that burned at Spectrum Polymers Ltd., a plastics recycler in Mansfield, was about 122,500 square feet in area and 20 feet high, said Mansfield Fire Chief Elton Vaughn.
Black smoke from the fire could be seen as far as 20 miles away, he said.
No one was injured. No damage estimate was available.