Automotive injection molder Arkay Industries Inc. will close its three plants in Paris, Ill., by mid-September, unless a buyer is found.
City leaders hope to find local jobs for the 50 Arkay employees. Mayor Craig Smith and Paris Economic Development Corp. also are looking for another manufacturer interested in the buildings.
``The buildings are in great shape. They're not very old,'' Smith said.
The three plants have about 30 injection molding machines, said John Kuhnash, Arkay's co-chief executive officer and a shareholder. He said company officials plan to move some of presses to Arkay's Ohio molding operations, although there have been no final plans. ``We still have our options pretty open right now,'' he said.
Kuhnash declined to detail Arkay's strategy, but said: ``Our plan is to consolidate those operations in Ohio.'' He said the move will strengthen the company's balance sheet.
Arkay could leave some of the machines in Paris, if a buyer were interested in running a plastics factory there.
``It doesn't necessarily mean that the Paris operation won't continue,'' Kuhnash said. ``There are suitors out there that could continue the operation.'' He declined to comment when asked if any deals are pending.
Kuhnash said Arkay's facilities are modern, and he praised the workforce as highly trained. ``It's been a phenomenal community for us to be in,'' he said.
His brother, Kevin Kuhnash, is the other CEO. Arkay is based in Monroe, Ohio.
After 14 years in Paris, Arkay's departure surprised officials in the town of about 9,700 in central Illinois, near the Indiana border, Smith said.
``We were working with them up until about 30 days ago on a loan from the revolving loan fund, and were caught by surprise by this,'' he said by telephone Aug. 3.
The loan, for more than $400,000, would have helped Arkay buy new equipment, Smith said. The injection molder had expected to win a new automotive contract, but it fell through, John Kuhnash said, but he declined to provide details.
``We've elected to focus on other opportunities and other geographies,'' he said.
Smith said Paris is serious about expanding its manufacturing base. ``We would work with whoever wants to come here, and the state of Illinois would help, too,'' he added.
Arkay opened its first Paris injection molding plant in 1991. In 1994, the company leased a second building. Then in 1998, Arkay opened the third facility, which actually is an addition to its original Paris factory.
Arkay used to employ more than 100 people in Paris.
For a small town, Paris has several major factories that process plastics. They include Novapak Corp., which makes bottles for soft drink, detergent and other consumer products; vinyl window fabricator Simonton Windows; flexible packaging maker Cadillac Products Packaging Co.; and North American Lighting Inc., which makes automotive headlights.
Those four plants employ about 1,000, said Chris Eldredge, board president of the Paris economic development group.