EASTHAMPTON, MASS. - Ekco Group Inc. is closing a plant in Easthampton that makes plastic household brushes and other cleaning products, and moving manufacturing to Mexico. Most of the injection molded plastic used in the Easthampton operation is sourced externally, both from Ekco's Worcester, Mass., plant and some custom outfits, said John Haran, vice president and treasurer.
Ekco Consumer Plastics Inc. in Worcester may continue to supply the cleaning products operation plastic parts after the business moves to a facility in Obreg¢n, Mexico, where Ekco makes kitchenware, Haran said. But he said the firm has not worked out the move's details.
The Worcester-based plastics unit operates about 30 injection molding presses, and does sales of less than $30 million, he said. Ekco expects corporate sales this year of about $275 million.
Haran would not identify any of the custom molders that currently supply the Easthampton facility, formerly Kellogg Brush Manufacturing Co., which Ekco bought in 1993. About 220 jobs at the Easthampton plant, and another 70 at Hamilton, Ohio, will be lost during the next 18 months, as the cleaning products business is consolidated in Obreg¢n, where Ekco expects lower costs to make the operation more competitive.
In a news release, Ekco Group President Robert Stein said the public company's plastics business also has been under ``severe price and cost pressure.''