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What you need to know for 02/22/2017

Fiber Glass Industries to shut Amsterdam plants

Fiber Glass Industries to shut Amsterdam plants

A longtime local manufacturer is blaming foreign competition for its demise after more than 50 years
Fiber Glass Industries to shut Amsterdam plants
Fiber Glass Industries announced Tuesday it plans to shutter its two Amsterdam facilities, including this manufacturing plant in the Edson Street Industrial Park, within the next 90 to 120 days.

A longtime local manufacturer is blaming foreign competition for its demise after more than 50 years in business.

Fiber Glass Industries Inc. announced Tuesday it would be closing its plants on Shuler Street and in the Edson Street Industrial Park over the next 90 to 120 days.

The fiberglass manufacturer supplies composites to manufacturers and has approximately 120 employees. According to a news release, its customer list includes General Motors, the Viking and Hunter luxury yacht companies and various oil companies.

Chairman John Menzel said in the release the company could no longer compete with products manufactured overseas, particularly in China.

“I have always been proud of what we have accomplished here, but the market only cares about what we can deliver competitively,” he said. “Unfortunately, we are competing with government-owned and government-financed competitors in China who have built more capacity than the market can absorb, and their government continues to subsidize these companies to export to the U.S.”

Menzel explained the situation to workers Tuesday at the plant on Shuler Street, but declined comment after the meeting. Workers were also given a company newsletter that included more information on the shutdown.

“How did we get in this position?” the newsletter reads. “We have been losing money since 2008. The Chinese have cut the price of fiberglass down so far that none of us, even them, can make money in this business.”

A worker at one of the plants, who didn’t want to be named, said the job paid well and the workplace was very friendly.

“Most of us are going to stay here until the end,” the worker said.

Robert von Hasseln, director of community and economic development for the city of Amsterdam, warned against taking the closing out of context, and said this was a particular company that had dealt with a difficult business climate.

“It’s not a harbinger of the future and not a return to the past,” he said, citing a period from 1995 to 2005 when the city lost about 55 businesses.

In fact, Hasseln said city leaders have been talking with several businesses about moving into Amsterdam.

Dan Weaver, a longtime resident who owns a bookstore in the city, has been witness to the changes over the years. He said he remembers when the city still had a decent number of factories for people to work in, with products that ranged from toys and electronic games to artificial leather.

“It was not difficult to get a good-paying factory job here in ’78,” he said.

The shutdown of the Fiber Glass Industries plants hit him harder than most other closings in the city.

“I thought it’d be here a while longer still,” he said. “It’s disillusioning.”

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