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Overhead Door closing Lewistown plant, moving to Williamsport

May 2, 2008
By FRANK JOST - Special to The Express

LEWISTOWN - Texas-based Overhead Door Corp. announced it will close its plant here by mid-December and move production to Williamsport. The closing affects 85 active employees. The transition is to begin in July, company officials said. But the closure will not affect the company's Lewistown rolling steel plant, which employs an additional 320 workers, officials said. The decision "will increase its efficiency and lower costs in manufacturing and freight," according to a press release issued by the company. "The move will enhance Overhead Door's ability to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace," the release states. Tom Rodden, director of operations for Overhead Door's Lewistown facilities, elaborated on what led to the planned closure. "Williamsport supplies most of the product that is shipped out of Lewistown. The high cost of freight due to skyrocketing fuel prices and transportation costs is the biggest factor in making this decision," Rodden said. "The decline in the housing market has also been a factor. By consolidating this portion of our operations at Williamsport, the company will be able to reduce costs significantly," he said. The company is in the process of entering into negotiations with the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council Carpenters Union 1936 regarding options for the employees who will be affected by the plant closure, said Tom Waite, human resources manager for the Lewistown facilities. "We want to make sure we take care of our people, but, until the negotiations start, I can't elaborate," Waite said. The press release issued by the company states "It is believed that the approximately 85 active employees of Lewistown's sectional plant will receive severance packages or the opportunity to apply for open positions at other Overhead Door locations." "This was a tough business decision. I want to emphasize that the employees at the plant did nothing to cause this (the closure)," Rodden said. "We're going to do everything we can to make this as gentle (a transition) as possible." Calls seeking comment from union representatives regarding the planned closure were not immediately returned to the Lewistown Sentinel newspaper. Word of the plant's impending closing follows news of a local dairy products manufacturer's planned shutdown in October and the phase-out of Mifflin County's Case New Holland facility, announced in 2006 and expected to be completed later this year. "The timing couldn't be worse," said Jim Tunall, president of the Juniata Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, which has worked closely with Overhead Door and other businesses in the Mifflin and Juniata county region. "A lot of good people work up there, and they're well known for their hard work and their industrious spirit. This is a hard blow ... it's numbing," Tunall said. Tunall said he believes a 67-day strike conducted by union employees at Overhead Door's Lewistown facilities in 2005 influenced the company's decision about the closure. "The strike had an impact. The company did not feel the community supported them while that was going on," Tunall said. "Since then, there has been less community involvement on the part of the company." Tunall also expressed his concern for the workers that will be affected by the closure. "This hurts more now than it ever could have ... it's bad news. I feel for the families facing this and the decisions they'll have to make as far as how they're going to make a living," he said. Overhead Door Corp., based in Dallas, Texas, is a leading manufacturer of overhead doors and openers for residential, commercial and industrial construction applications. The company created the original overhead garage door in 1921, and the first garage door opener in 1926, according to the press release. Overhead Door is a subsidiary of Sanwa Shutter Corp., of Tokyo, Japan. Additional information about the company can be found online at www. overheaddoor.com

 
 
 

 

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