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Hussman to shut down plant in 2009

Hussman to shut down plant in 2009

More Mohawk Valley jobs are leaving the country, with refrigeration system manufacturer Hussman Corp

More Mohawk Valley jobs are leaving the country, with refrigeration system manufacturer Hussman Corp. deciding to close its Gloversville facility and ship its work to Mexico.

The Bridgeton, Mo.-based Hussman, whose refrigeration food cases appear in supermarkets and convenience stores worldwide, notified its Gloversville workers Wednesday about the plant closure.

The shutdown follows Hussman’s decision to reduce its independent distributor product offerings. That work accounts for half of the Gloversville plant’s manufacturing activities. The plant will close during the second half of 2009.

“As a matter of sound business practice, and also in response to unprecedented economic and marketplace challenges, we are refining business models throughout our enterprises,” Hussman Gloversville Plant Manager Ronald Jakubec said in a statement.

The plant’s shutdown will affect 90 workers. The plant employed 140 people in 1990, when it was owned by the Whitman Corp. in Chicago. Jakubec noted that the plant has been limping along, operating at 40 percent equipment capacity and 20 percent assembly capacity — production levels that are “not sustainable and unlikely to increase in the foreseeable future.”

“These were good jobs that have been in the community for a long time, and we’re certainly going to miss them,” said Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead.

Hussman was acquired by the Montvale, N.J.-based Ingersoll-Rand Co. in 2000. It is transferring the Gloversville plant’s production workload to an existing facility in Monterrey, Mexico.

The Hussman facility on East State Street is near the former vinyl record plant that Universal Music closed in 2005, eliminating 112 jobs. The Universal facility remains vacant.

The layoffs will likely push up Fulton County’s unemployment rate, which took a hit earlier this year after the Carlsbad, Calif.-based Callaway Golf Co. closed its Gloversville plant and laid off 118 workers. That work was shipped to China.

By October, Fulton County’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

Before closing its Amsterdam automobile antenna manufacturing plant in December 2006, Ward Products Corp. transferred most of that facility’s operations to Tijuana, Mexico. Between 2002 and 2005, the North Brunswick, N.J.-based Ward eliminated 203 of its 250 upstate jobs as it outsourced production work to address cost problems.

“It’s obviously part of a national trend. … It’s not just happening in Fulton County. It has nothing to do with our work force,” said Lisa McCoy, the marketing director for the Fulton County Economic Development Corp.

McCoy said the Economic Development Corp. has launched an international campaign to attract foreign companies to the country. The agency is targeting European agriculture companies similar to Farge USA, the Greek yogurt manufacturer that recently opened a $70 million production plant that employs 60 in Johnstown. Wal-Mart Stores’ food distribution plant, also in Johnstown, is another major county employer.

“People have to eat, so food-related business is strong,” McCoy said.

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