A Greenville manufacturing plant has announced it will close by January 2023, taking 475 jobs with it.
DENSO Manufacturing, which makes small motors for windshield wipers, power windows and other auto parts, told local economic development officials Jan. 18 that layoffs will occur later this year. For much of his time in Greenville, the company was called ASMO.
Employees, who travel to the plant from Greenville and other area communities, were notified of the impending closure on Tuesday to give them time to determine their plans.
“Quite surprised to receive the call yesterday that DENSO has decided to close its Greenville manufacturing facility,” said Brad Hufford, vice president of business development for the Greenville-ENC Alliance, on Wednesday.
“They were briefing employees yesterday and indicated that there will be no direct impact in regards to layoffs before the July-August period.”
Since 2019, DENSO’s parent company has been reorganizing, Hufford said. He believes the decision to close his Greenville plant is the result of corporate rationalization. The company later said in a statement that the shutdown was part of an effort to optimize its manufacturing operations in North America.
“As DENSO continues to develop and manufacture a range of small engines, we will consolidate small engine products into appropriate DENSO sites that can support multi-product businesses to remain efficient and meet customer needs,” says the press release. “Employees in Greenville will have the opportunity to fill vacancies at other DENSO facilities in North America. Other employees will be offered competitive severance packages and support as they transition to new opportunities. »
Hufford said the company plans to help employees find jobs with the company as much as possible. The closest manufacturing facility is in Statesville.
“Our main concern right now is with these workers,” Hufford said. “Whenever there is a shutdown like this, the North Carolina Department of Commerce requires businesses to issue what is called a Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification (WARN) letter, and this letter is being sent to inform the government but also workforce development partners through the Department of Commerce division of Workforce Solutions.
The WARN Letter helps the company and economic impact partners such as the Rivers East Workforce Development Board identify affected workers and provide them with direct assistance, either by locating employment assistance or providing the conversion. This could include financial aid at a community college.
According to Andrew Beale, communications manager for the NC division of Workforce Solutions, DENSO did not have to file a WARN letter on Wednesday. The Department of Commerce website indicates that a WARNING letter is required when closing a factory that affects at least 50 employees in a 30-day period, as well as when mass layoffs of 50 to 499 employees when this number represents at least at least one third of the employer’s workforce.
At this early stage of the announcement, ENC Alliance does not have direct monetary figures on the impact of the 475 lost jobs on the economy. Hufford stressed that Greenville’s economy is still strong and skilled manufacturing workers shouldn’t miss out on opportunities.
“The DENSO people who work there have great skills and experience in the manufacturing environment,” Hufford said. “They will just need to be placed in new opportunities and trained in their protocols.”
ENC Alliance, owner of Indigreen Corporate Park, where the plant is located, will help DENSO sell the building and locate new companies to occupy it later.
Bridgette LaRose, corporate communications manager for DENSO, relayed the statement on behalf of the company but had no further comment.
The Japanese-owned facility opened as ASMO Greenville in 1995. It was honored by the Pitt County Development Commission as Industry of the Year in 2005.
With a workforce of up to 900, the company and its employees are an integral part of the community through their support of charities such as United Way, Red Cross, March of Dimes and Children’s Miracle Network.
A grassroots management group also brought cultural connections to their homes in Japan, including local school programs and exchanges like the Greenville International Festival.
DENSO in 2013 began a $50 million expansion that included an eight-year incentive agreement with Pitt County to create 200 jobs. The county paid the company more than $187,000 a year.