Mold-parts supplier Jamestown Precision Tooling Co. will close by the end of June and shift its operations to a sister company in Dayton, Ohio.
The company is another victim of a lingering downturn in U.S. mold making, said Thomas Geiger, vice president of operations for the Jamestown, N.Y., facility.
``Our fear is that this is not the typical, cyclical dip in business,'' Geiger said. ``We don't see the business coming back this time. We just had no other alternative.''
Launched in 1962 as a small, locally owned tool shop under the name Jamestown Perforators, the company broadened after its purchase in 1986 by manufacturing group Federal Signal Corp.
As recently as 2000, the Jamestown plant added 5,300 square feet and ramped up to 143 workers, Geiger said.
Layoffs have reduced that number to 101 workers at the 40,000-square-foot plant.
Federal Signal, based in Oak Brook, Ill., was forced to close the plant, given the weak economic situation and overseas price pressures, said spokeswoman Stephanie Kushner. The company will transfer some of the plant's mold-building and components work to Dayton Progress Corp.'s headquarters in Ohio starting in March, Kushner said.
Other work will go to Dayton Progress facilities in Canada and Portugal, where the company can reduce costs, Kusher said.
``It's part of a broader effort to adjust our manufacturing footprint for our tooling business,'' she said. ``It's making sense for us to cut back on production, given the drop in margins and in capacity.''
Dayton Progress has two buildings in Dayton totaling 110,000 square feet. Work moving there includes the production of specialty mold products, including custom cores and pins, and some tooling work for ammunition cartridges and battery components, said Al Ringler, president of Federal Signal's tool group.
The Dayton facility already builds some battery and ammunition molds, he said. The facility primarily makes stamping dies for metal parts, he said.
The company still must decide how many employees will move from Jamestown to Dayton, Ringler said.
Workers were notified Jan. 20 of the plant's shutdown.
``Plastic injection mold work is a new venture for us [in Dayton],'' Ringler said. ``We plan to take some equipment and some key people from the Jamestown plant. We want to learn everything they know about the technology.''
Federal Signal also owns another mold-components subsidiary, PCS Co. of Fraser, Mich. That company, unaffected by the Jamestown closing, makes standard mold bases and components, while Jamestown Precision targets more specialized parts, Ringler said.
The plant's problems are a symptom of a decline in U.S. tooling since the fall of 2000, Ringler said. At the time, the Jamestown plant was operating at close to capacity, he said.
``It had nothing to do with people or the quality of work,'' Ringler said. ``There just isn't enough work to go around.
``We had a good run. But for the first time in more than 38 years in this business, I have serious misgivings. I've never seen anything as scary as we've seen now.''
The company plans to look for a buyer in Jamestown, said Geiger, who started his career with Dayton Progress in 1963.