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6/12/2009 4:59:00 PM
Columbus Components Group to close July 31, idling 215 people

The Republic

By Kirk Johannesen, The Republic

johannesen@therepublic.com

    Columbus Components Group has notified all employees that the plant will close July 31.

    Jerry Wagner, office manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1424, confirmed the planned closure and said layoffs would begin June 30. 

    CCG stated in a letter to employees that the shutdown will affect 215 people. Wagner said the plant has 112 union and nonunion employees, so he thinks the company's total includes salaried and office workers. 

    The company laid off 123 union and non-union employees April 9, leaving 138 at the time.

    Employees were notified of the closure in meetings Wednesday during the two work shifts.

    Indiana Department of Workforce Development Thursday received a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letter from CCG.

    The letter read that recent and unforeseeable circumstances, including customers canceling orders, and the loss of banking credit lines necessitated the shutdown.

Not a surprise

Mayor Fred Armstrong Thursday morning received from CCG a certified letter about the closing. "I'm not shocked whatsoever," Armstrong said. "I think poor management was some of it, and the economy some. 

    "This was going to happen," he said. "When you have your customers pay for materials before they get the product it gets tough. I don't know if the owners really cared."

    Wagner disputes that the shutdown was unforeseeable because the company had stated in WARN letters sent to DWD in February and March that the plant might close. 

    "(CCG President) Rick Holmes knew that we were closing. I don't know why he put anything like that in the (latest letter)," Wagner said.

    The company stated in a February letter to union members that unless they accepted wage cuts and reductions in benefits, the plant could close by March 1.

    The union voted in February to accept a 5 percent pay cut, an increase in insurance premiums and deductibles and suspension of company contributions to employees' 401(k) plans.

    Wagner said Holmes told workers that the plant would not close.

    CCG laid off 25 hourly and 12 salaried workers in early March.

    IBEW Local 1424 responded by filing with the National Labor Relations Board a charge of badfaith bargaining against CCG. 

    CCG cited in a March letters to the city and employees that declining sales and the economy were reasons it would lay off workers April 9.

    Wagner, however, contended that the company abandoned light-duty automotive work to focus almost exclusively on heavy-duty automotive work.

11th closure for owner

    CCG owner Patrick James and former owners Jay Schabel and Mike Klinginsmith have closed at least 10 manufacturing plants in North America in the last 10 years, eliminating at least 1,500 jobs and leaving suppliers and employees owed money.
    Default judgments against CCG totaling $61,861.84 have been awarded to three companies this year. Five lawsuits and two liens by seven companies are seeking $418,312.31 for non-payments of services or products.

    Armstrong said he doubts the city will recoup any money from the 10-year, $600,000 property tax abatement given to CCG in 2007 for machinery.

    CCG employed 520 in 2004 when James, Schabel and Klinginsmith bought the company.

    Unless someone is willing to buy the plant, CCG's closure will end a long history in Columbus. For decades the plant was part of Arvin Industries, Arvin Inc. and ArvinMeritor. Arvin began in 1919 as Indianapolis Air Pump Co. and was moved to Columbus in 1925.

    Messages left for Holmes were not returned. CCG representatives repeatedly have refused to comment on layoffs, contract negotiations or possible closure.

Related Stories:
• Elkhart company wins judgment against Columbus Components Group
• NAL Worldwide to cut 70 jobs in Fort Wayne
• Zimmer cuts 100 employees in Warsaw
• Smoother road ahead for automotive suppliers?
• Columbus Components Group cuts another 55 employees






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