Electrical parts maker Thomas & Betts Corp. could close a 135-employee injection molding plant in Clinton, Iowa, if talks with union representatives don't yield a viable option.
The plant's primary product is injection molded electrical boxes used in residential property construction. The plant also extrudes corrugated plastic conduit.
As U.S. residential construction has gone into a tailspin, demand for T&B's construction products has dropped more than 40 percent since 2008, said officials with the Memphis, Tenn.-based firm.
T&B officials plan to meet with the local branch of the Glass, Molders, Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers International Union which represents most of the plant's workers to develop an alternate plan to closing. Wage concessions may be part of an alternate plan, T&B investor and corporate relations Vice President Tricia Bergeron said in an April 8 email.
Talks with the union are set to conclude by April 15.
If no plan can be developed, the plant is expected to close by the end of July. If the Clinton plant closes, work from there will be moved to T&B plants in Portland and Athens, Tenn.
In an April 6 news release, T&B's Tim Coates said a possible closure is a very difficult decision, because it affects the lives of our workers, their families and the community. Coates serves as vice president of operations for T&B's electrical division.
Coates added that T&B considered many factors, including proximity to the firm's central distribution center in northeastern Mississippi, before concluding that consolidation may be the best decision to help us optimize our manufacturing footprint.
T&B acquired the 150,000-square-foot plant in 2007 as part of its acquisition of Lamson & Sessions Co. In 2010, T&B reported sales of just over $2 billion, up 9 percent vs. 2009. The company also reported 2009 profit of almost $146 million, up nearly 35 percent in the same comparison.
Late last year T&B paid more than $110 million to buy Cable Management Group Ltd., a maker of cable-protection products in Birmingham, England. T&B has estimated injection molding sales of $130 million, according to Plastics News data.