Plant cycle continues

U.S.  facilities expand, close

The Midwest has seen the golden days of manufacturing as well as the dark days. In the post-WWII era, cities like St. Louis, Cleveland, and Detroit were booming hubs of factory production. Then came the 1980s, the Rust Belt era, and the part of the country we know  and love became associated with failing cities and declining workforces. Now, as the dust of the recession of 2008 has settled and many manufacturing industries begin to get back on their feet, we see both effects still crisscrossing the Midwest landscape. The same is true for other areas of the country, and this week provided ample reminder of both ends of the spectrum:Timken logo

The first example demonstrates an extended reach. Timken Co., which is headquartered in Canton, Ohio, added a motor and gearbox repair facility to an existing service facility it operates in Pasco, Washington. The operation is part of the Timken Power Systems business, which repairs and maintains motors, power trains, wind turbine generators and gearboxes.

The 70,000-square-foot facility represents a $7 million investment. It was built to enhance the service to customers in the Pacific Northwest, Timken officials explained in a press release. Timken expanded a facility it acquired in 2013 when it bought H&N Electric. The business has 70 employees and hopes to hire 35 more people over the next five years, according to reports.

General Motors logoMeanwhile, a General Motors location was shut down in Janesville, Wisc., after years of deliberation and holding out hope: the company reached a tentative agreement on a new labor agreement with the UAW that changed the plant’s status from “standby” to “closed.” The plant that manufactured SUVs and trucks had been idled since 2009, when the production was shifted to a factory in Arlington, TX. Some of its workers had been commuting as far as GM’s Fort Wayne, Ind., facility to keep their jobs, hoping the Janesville plant would reopen and enable them to keep their day-to-day. Alas, despite encouraging whispers and the comparative reopening of plants in nearby Kenosha and Milwaukee, JaneSulzer logosville sadly didn’t make the cut.


October 20, Sulzer (the Swiss pump maker) decided to close its pump manufacturing plant in Brookshire, Texas. The products being manufactured there were moved to other locations, but jobs were lost.

Pacific Gas & Electric logo


At least there is news from the brighter side, as we saw earlier with Timken. Pacific Gas & Electric broke ground Monday on a new training facility in Winters, CA. This instance is a $75 million investment that will provide jobs for 50 full-time employees and 100 to 150 students on site daily. The utility aims to create a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square foot training facility that will improve their employee production from the stem.


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