Fortis Plastics LLC plans to shutter its Fort Smith, Ark., facility, according to the city administrator. Meanwhile, rumors are circulating that work at numerous other locations may be reduced or plants closed.
The company has filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letter with the city, according to administrator Ray Gosack, and will terminate the jobs of its 93 employees from Nov. 4-18 “because of an inability to secure additional capital.”
Fortis, based in South Bend, Ind., and its parent, Monomoy Capital Partners LP of New York, did not respond to requests for comment.
Another Fortis plant, in Poplar Bluff, Mo., is facing rumors of closure, according to a local newspaper, the Daily American Republic. The paper said some of the 130 workers are applying for jobs at other local plastics companies. However, the state workforce agency said Oct. 19 it had not received a WARN letter from Fortis about that site.
The newspaper also said a Briggs & Stratton Corp. plant in Poplar Bluff, which Fortis supplies, is laying off workers.
Two Fortis plants in Mexico also may face slowdowns, according to an industry source who asked not to be identified. Another source indicated some Fortis customers have had to scramble for new suppliers to replace parts, due to Fortis cuts.
Fortis' Fort Smith plant produced parts for a Whirlpool Corp. facility in Fort Smith that is under review, according a Whirlpool spokesman.
Whirlpool said in an email: “The declining demand for side-by-side refrigeration, and reduced forecasted production volumes for 2012, has prompted the company to initiate a study of options for the Fort Smith location in late August. No decisions have been made, however the company is reviewing asset utilization across its North American refrigeration operations. Current demand for all major appliances is at recessionary levels. We continue to monitor our business, and make adjustments as needed to deliver best cost and best quality to our customers.”
Gosack said that despite cutbacks at Fortis and Whirlpool, there are companies hiring in Fort Smith. He noted that Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. is building a wind turbine plant and expects to hire more than 300 workers next year.
Fortis formed in late 2008 when Monomoy Capital acquired and combined Atlantis Plastics Inc.'s injection molding business and Leggett & Platt Inc.'s plastics molding business. Atlantis was a major Whirlpool supplier.
Since then, Fortus has closed six plants, in Elkhart, Ind.; LaVergne, Tenn.; Booneville, Miss.; Henderson, Ky.; and Alamo and Brownsville, Texas. In that same time frame, Fortis bought two plants in Mexico: a facility in Ramos Arizpe from Moll Industries Inc. and a plant in Chihuahua from Nypro Inc.
The Henderson closing came soon after Whirlpool closed its nearby Evansville, Ind., plant.
The Fortis website notes that the company acquired Kurz-Kasch Inc.'s thermoset molding business in 2009. According to a Dayton Business Journal story, Kurz-Kasch will close its Miamisburg, Ohio, plant and transfer work to Newcomerstown, Ohio, and South Boston, Va., by mid-November.
Kurz-Kasch is also listed as Monomoy portfolio company.