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Honeywell to move plant to Tennessee

April 18, 1997

By TERRY TALBERT

Staff Writer

Honeywell Environmental Air Control announced Thursday it will close its Hagerstown area plant, which employs 125 people, by June 17.

Factory workers and administrators at the plant at 100 Jamison Court will be offered pay incentives to stay with the company until then, and will get job counseling, help finding new jobs, and extended medical benefits, Honeywell officials said.

The company announced the closing at a meeting with employees at the plant at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Honeywell officials said.

Honeywell is transferring production of all Enviracaire portable air cleaners now being made in Hagerstown to the Honeywell Consumer Products plant in Newbern, Tenn., where Duracraft air cleaners are made, they said.

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Lynne M. Warne of Honeywell Inc. in Minneapolis, Minn., was in Hagerstown for the announcement. She said local workers can apply for work in Newbern, and will be given the same consideration as any other applicant.

Warne said Honeywell will pay up to $1,000 in relocation costs to Hagerstown workers who get jobs in Newbern. She said more light assembly workers will be needed at the Tennessee plant.

Warne said even though Honeywell is leaving Hagerstown, the company intends to keep prior financial commitments to the United Way and Hagerstown Junior College.

Warne said Enviracaire cleaners are considered Honeywell's premium line. Duracraft is the firm's "value" brand, she said.

The closing of the Hagerstown plant is part of the firm's plans to consolidate its U.S. Consumer Products manufacturing operations, according to Honeywell Senior Vice President Brian McGourty.

"While closing a facility is very difficult, it's not reasonable to duplicate production lines," McGourty said. "After acquiring Enviracaire and Duracraft, we were manufacturing two very similar air cleaner products in two different locations."

"This consolidation plan is a result of assessing the two manufacturing facilities," McGourty said. "The Newbern site has excess capacity, substantial capital equipment investment and proximity to major distribution centers, making it the preferred location for consolidation of manufacturing."

McGourty said Newbern's selection is no reflection on the performance of the Hagerstown plant, which he said was "exceptional."

"It's not good news," said Washington County Economic Development Coordinator Sharon Disque. "It is an exceptional company, with lots of good people working there. It is a nice place to work."

Disque said several years ago, when the firm still employed fewer than 100 people, it won the county's "Outstanding Small Industry" award.

Disque said the local firm started operating here in 1971 as Environmental Air Control. At that time the company, which manufactured Enviracaire clean air machines, owned a building in the Hagerstown Industrial Park.

The local firm was acquired by Honeywell in 1992. Two years later, it sold the building in the industrial park and moved into the former Ametec building on Jamison Circle, Disque said.

Since Ametec wanted to sell, and Honeywell wanted to lease, Disque said the county talked to the state, and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) bought the building and leased it to Honeywell.

Disque said the MEDCO-owned building, with 115,564 square feet of space, and access to rail service, is a prime site.

Disque said she already has two new business prospects in mind for the building.

After acquiring the Envirocaire clean air line, Honeywell in 1996 acquired Duracraft, another line of clean air machines.

Honeywell makes products for the homes and buildings, industrial, and aviation and space markets. The company employs 57,500 people in 95 countries and had 1996 sales of $7.3 billion.

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