Demag Plastics Group will close the Van Dorn Demag screw factory in Fountain Inn, S.C., by the end of the year - cutting 43 jobs - and plans to move screw production to the Van Dorn injection press assembly plant in Strongsville, Ohio.
The machinery maker blamed the sluggish U.S. market. The firm filed a closing notice with the government Sept. 18, then issued a news release Sept. 25.
``We are moving screws, barrels, nonreturn valves and other small components that were made there into the Strongsville plant,'' said Bill Carteaux, president and chief executive officer.
The Fountain Inn factory will close Dec. 31. Employees are getting a ``stay put'' bonus to encourage them to remain at work through the end, as the company builds inventory before switching to screw manufacturing in Strongsville.
Demag Plastics Group also has provided severance packages and outplacement assistance.
Calling the Fountain Inn employees ``extremely hard-working men and women,'' Carteaux said the company regrets having to close the facility. ``These people have bent over backwards to do the things we asked them to do to salvage that plant,'' he said.
But the U.S. injection molding machine market remains at about half the level of three years ago, Carteaux said. ``Many molders who purchase injection molding machines have closed or relocated outside the U.S. The market situation is not expected to improve,'' he said.
Van Dorn Demag and its German-based sister company, Demag Ergotech, became a single company late last year, called Demag Plastics Group. Even before the official merger, the two injection press makers had cooperated as sister companies under their parent, Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG of Munich.
Carteaux said the Strongsville factory freed up space through lean manufacturing and kaizen programs, which allowed the company to move out some old metalworking equipment. He said Strongsville will add some employees when the screw operation moves to Ohio.
Van Dorn does buy some specialty screws and barrels from outside suppliers, but Carteaux said having in-house production is important for his company, and all of MPM.
Meanwhile, as previously reported, the company is close to finalizing the sale of another South Carolina operation, a factory in Duncan that employs 24, machining parts such as toggle components, platens and some items for injection units.
``We do have a letter of intent,'' Carteaux said by telephone Sept. 25. He declined to name the buyer, but said the new owner will continue machining those components for Van Dorn presses and will work for other customers.
``We do have a long-term supply agreement with them,'' he said.
Carteaux said demand from the Van Dorn-brand presses alone was not enough to fill capacity in Duncan.