About 75 people will lose their jobs at Alliance-Carolina Tool & Mold Corp. when the custom injection molder and mold maker closes down in Arden, N.C., on Dec. 31 after losing its biggest customer.
Now Alliance-Carolina officials are trying to sell the company's 22 injection presses, auxiliary machines, mold-making equipment and two buildings.
Chief Financial Officer Richard Stokes said Affinia Group pulled molding work for its WIX-brand of automotive air and oil filters and moved the work to a competing U.S. molder. Stokes said anywhere from a third to half of Alliance-Carolina's business came from the WIX filters, at Affinia's Global Filtration business in Gastonia, N.C.
That was the big reason [for the shutdown], when we lost that customer, Stokes said. WIX wasn't the only customer we had, but it was the biggest customer we had.
He said the WIX business pulled out in July. That prompted officials of Alliance-Carolina to study how to proceed.
This closing is not something we've taken lightly. We've dwelled over it for the last four months, Stokes said. Now the company will work through the end of the year to finish molding parts and help customers find new plastics suppliers.
We're actually trying to be very helpful with our customers, making sure we have an orderly transition of tools, Stokes said.
The company moved to North Carolina from Rochester, N.Y., in 1964. Times were better in the late 1990s, when Alliance-Carolina launched a $1.9 million expansion. By the early 2000s, about 200 people worked at the company, Stokes said.
In 2009, the company employed 120 and generated sales of $9 million. Employment dropped below 100 at the start of 2010.
We've been cutting back every day and every week as we try and conserve cash, Stokes said. At one point, the company employed about 50 toolmakers, but that number has dwindled down to just a few.
As the volume of molding and tooling jobs got reduced, Alliance-Carolina was left with a large infrastructure that it could not afford, Stokes said. That includes a 24,500-square-foot headquarters and mold shop, and a 41,500-square-foot injection molding and assembly building. The two factories are a half-mile apart.
Everything is for sale, including the buildings, the property. The 22 injection presses, ranging in clamping force from 30-500 tons, are mostly Toshibas, Mitsubishis and Van Dorns.
Stokes said company officials are committed to paying Alliance-Carolina's debts.
We're going to liquidate the company in an orderly fashion so that we can pay off all our secured creditors and unsecured vendors, he said.