Myers Industries Inc. of Akron, Ohio, is closing three injection molding plants in North America, laying off 337 workers at two sites in the United States and one in Canada.
The manufacturer on June 1 announced plans to close plants in Brampton, Ontario; Lugoff, S.C.; and Dawson Springs, Ky., by the end of 2007.
``The decision to close any facility is extremely difficult,'' Myers President John Orr said in a news release. ``But to remain competitive and position the business for the future, it is absolutely critical that we further consolidate work across our facilities to fully utilize our high-speed molding capacity, reduce operating costs, and achieve greater efficiency gains.''
A Myers spokesman said production will be moved to other facilities, but the locations have yet to be determined.
The 209,000-square-foot Dawson Springs site employs 95 and makes plastic reusable hand-held containers. It is the second-largest employer in Dawson Springs. The plant began operations in 1975 as Mid-South Plastics. It then was taken over by Buckhorn Inc. and eventually by Myers.
In the current environment of corporate buyouts and global manufacturing, ``nothing is a surprise anymore,'' Dwight Seymore, chairman of the board with West Hopkins Industries Inc., in Dawson Springs, said in a June 1 telephone interview. ``We've been suspecting it for some time.''
During the past few years, the company moved some equipment out of the facility to other plants in North America, Seymore said. About 10 years ago the plant employed 200.
The Brampton and Lugoff plants were part of ITML Horticultural Products Inc., which Myers bought earlier this year. Brampton employed 170, and Lugoff had 72. Both plants make nursery containers, specialty retail horticultural products and custom plastic products.
Myers last month agreed to be acquired by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of New York for $22.50 per share in cash. Officials had started last year on a plan to consolidate facilities.
Throughout 2006, Myers made changes, including staff cuts at the corporate and operations levels, as well as investments throughout the last half of the year to move certain lawn and garden manufacturing from California to Ohio and Nevada to take advantage of lower costs and more efficient manufacturing operations, according to Myers' 2006 annual report.
Its lawn and garden segment, under which the Brampton and Lugoff sites fall, has been a drag on fundamentals during the past three quarters. Sales in that segment in 2006 were $160.2 million, a decrease of 6 percent from 2005. Profit before taxes was $8.1 million, a decrease of 51 percent from 2005.
The $110 million purchase of ITML in January gave Myers more than a 50 percent share of the horticultural container market.