NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (June 27, 2008) – Firestone Industrial Products Company, LLC (FSIP) today announced it has delivered a “Notice of Potential Plant Closure” related to its Noblesville, Ind., facility to representatives of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW). In the notice, the company stated that the air springs market is increasingly global, making it difficult for FSIP — the only U.S. manufacturer of air springs — to compete. Although no final decision has been made, the company advised the USW of the possible closure of the facility due to the substantial losses being incurred at the Noblesville plant.
With delivery of the notice to the USW, the company also expressed its willingness to enter immediately into good faith negotiations with union representatives regarding the potential plant closure. According to the notice, FSIP now has six months to discuss these issues with the union. If, after good faith negotiations, the decision is made to close the plant, the closure would occur sometime in 2009, but that date has not been determined.
“We have a difficult challenge in Noblesville,” said Mike Cerio, President, FSIP. “Our main competitors are manufacturing in low-cost producing countries, making it very difficult for FSIP to continue to operate this facility, one which is hampered by aging equipment, the world’s highest wage and benefit structure and a mature domestic market.”
Cerio continued, “International markets for air springs are growing, while the U.S. market is mature, providing very limited opportunity for growth. High manufacturing and logistics costs prohibit us from exporting our products from this facility into these emerging markets. Meanwhile, imports from lower-cost manufacturers abroad are gaining ground in the U.S. Even with substantial new capital investment, market forces make it extremely difficult for the Noblesville plant to be globally competitive.”
The Noblesville plant began operations in 1936 and produces industrial and automotive air springs, used as both original equipment and in the aftermarket. The facility employs about 300 teammates.
“This has been a very difficult announcement to make, especially in light of our 72 years’ presence in Noblesville,” said Cerio. “The step we announced today was taken only after serious consideration of our alternatives. The appropriate union officials, as well as government and community leaders, have been contacted to explain the situation at the plant. We have held and are continuing to hold meetings with our plant teammates as well.”
About Firestone Industrial Products Company, LLC:
Firestone Industrial Products Company, LLC (FSIP) specializes in air spring manufacturing and technology with a history of more than 60 years of research and development of technologically advanced air springs. Its famous Airide™ brand has set the standard for air spring manufacturing and technology since 1939. FSIP is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Firestone Diversified Products.
About Bridgestone Firestone Diversified Products:
Bridgestone Firestone Diversified Products (BFDP) is based in Indianapolis, Ind., and is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. (BSAH). BFDP is responsible for BSAH’s non-tire businesses, including building and industrial products, synthetic polymers, natural and synthetic rubber, and industrial fibers and textiles.