Budd Co. is preparing to phase out production at one of its sheet molding compound plants as its automotive customers stop building the cars whose components are produced there.
The company does not plan to shutter the 465-employee facility at Kendallville, Ind., permanently, but will ``scale down'' operations pending future contracts, executives said in a written statement released Feb. 8.
Budd's Plastics Division, headquartered in Troy, Mich., makes SMC hoods, fenders and doors at the site with major contracts for General Motors Corp.'s Firebird and Camaro cars, Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln Continental and DaimlerChrysler AG's Prowler. The automakers have announced they will end those lines at the end of the cars' current production cycle, part of an industrywide demand to refocus manufacturing.
All four vehicles will die off this year - the Prowler this month, the Lincoln in midyear and the Camaro and Firebird in September.
With those cars coming to an end, Budd found itself with excess capacity for its SMC products, the company said. The supplier also has SMC molding operations in Carey and New Baltimore, Ohio, and an SMC raw materials plant in Van Wert, Ohio.
Budd will work with the local union, United Auto Workers Local 2620, and work teams at Kendallville for an ``orderly transition'' to ease production as the models come to the end of their cycles.
The firm plans to reopen the plant as market conditions improve and manufacturing demands expand. It did not list a timetable for an expected reopening, only noting it would ``scale down operations ... during the next few years.''