March 25, 2014
COFFEYVILLE — Coffeyville and Montgomery County were dealt a major blow with Tuesday’s announcement that Southwire Company will phase out its Coffeyville plant by March 2015.
Some 200 jobs will be impacted at the Coffeyville wire manufacturing center. Southwire is one of the top 20 employers in Montgomery County.
Gary Leftwich, company spokesperson at Southwire headquarters in Carrollton, Ga., said local employees were notified on Tuesday of the decision to phase out the local plant over the next 12 months. Two other Southwire manufacturing sites in Melville, New York, and York, Pa., as well as distribution centers in Orland, Fla., Seattle, Wash., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Ontario, Canada, will also be closed, resulting in a total loss of 500 jobs companywide.
Existing Southwire employees will be able to apply for other jobs within Southwire Company, Leftwich said. Employees will be granted a relocation allowance should they accept those jobs.
Severance packages based on seniority will also be offered to affected employees, he said.
Why is Southwire closing its Coffeyville facility? Leftwich said the corporation recently bought Coleman Cable. As a result of that acquisition, the larger Southwire company has an overabundance of manufacturing capacity.
“The acquisition of Coleman Cable has led to a stronger and more competitive Southwire overall, but with any merger or acquisition, there are cases of redundancy and overproduction capacity,” he said. “The decision to close the Coffeyville plant is not a reflection on Coffeyville or the Coffeyville employees. This was simply a decision that allows Southwire to reach new markets and access new products.”
Leftwich said the company was concerned about the well being of the impacted employees during the transition time. The company will offer counseling services and extended health care benefits to assist those workers who jobs will be eliminated over the next 12 months.
The phase down of the Coffeyville plant will see the gradual elimination of jobs starting in the next several months, he said.
News of Southwire’s closure hit Coffeyville hard on Tuesday. Aaron Heckman, director of the Montgomery County Action Council, admitted to be taken off guard by the company’s decision. He said the call was made at the highest corporate level, leaving himself and other local officials with little chance to appeal its decision.
“At this point, the decision has been made,” he said. “Our job now is to help the affected employees locate jobs or training opportunities in Montgomery County.”
Heckman also said he would work with Southwire concerning the future use of the facility, located at the south end of the Coffeyville Industrial Park.
Leftwich said no decision had yet been made concerning the facility once it is closed.
Stacia Meek, Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce director, said the local chamber would offer its resources to affected workers so that they can find available jobs in the Coffeyville and Montgomery County area.
Originally known as American Insulated Wire Company, Southwire has held a heavy manufacturing presence in Montgomery County since 1995. AIW came to Coffeyville in 1995 after an effort by local officials, bolstered by passage of a one-cent sales tax initiative approved by county voters in 1994, to lure the wire manufacturer to Coffeyville as well as Cessna Aircraft Company to Independence.
Southwire Company purchased AIW in 2010. The company’s acquisition of Coleman Cable occurred last month.