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Rohr plant to close

December 03, 1998|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

BFGoodrich will close its aircraft parts plant in Hagerstown by late 1999, throwing 199 people out of work, the company said Wednesday.

The Hagerstown plant, known locally as Rohr Inc., is one of four Aerostructures Group plants the company will close, eliminating 775 jobs, a company official said.

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BFGoodrich President Marshall O. Larsen said in a news release that the closing is part of an effort to streamline and restructure manufacturing operations at its Aerostructures Group.

The Richfield, Ohio, company acquired Aerostructures in a merger with Rohr Inc. in December 1997.

At its peak in 1990-91, the Hagerstown plant employed 620 people and reported $621.8 million in sales.

The work done at the Hagerstown plant will be done at a Riverside, Calif., facility after the closing.

"Business decisions that affect our employees and their families are always extremely difficult to make," Bud Wetzler, senior vice president of operations for the Aerostructures Group, said in the release.

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"These employees have contributed greatly to our success the past decade through their dedication, excellence and professionalism. This closing is not at all reflective of their fine performance," he said in the release.

The cutbacks are expected to save BFGoodrich about $10 million a year starting in 2000.

Brent Bowers, of Hagerstown, said he has worked for the company for eight years and doesn't know what he will do for work when the plant closes.

He said he was treated and paid well at Rohr and would try to find a job doing maintenance work as he does for Rohr.

Bowers said employees officially were notified of the impending closing during a group meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Most people were not surprised by the news, he said.

"We had heard rumors before," he said.

The three other plants BFGoodrich will close as part of the restructuring include two assembly sites in Heber Springs and Sheridan, Ark., and an assembly/service facility in Hamburg, Germany.

"After evaluating current production requirements and projected business growth, we concluded that these four facilities do not support our strategic plans for long-term growth and enhanced profitability," said Wetzler.

Work performed at the United States facilities will be divided among locations in Chula Vista, Calif., San Marcos, Texas and Foley, Ala.

At the time of Rohr's 1997 sale to BFGoodrich, officials said the merger would not affect the Hagerstown plant.

"We intend to operate Rohr as an autonomous, ongoing company," company spokesman Rob Jewel said at the time.

Just 10 years earlier, Rohr bought Fairchild Composite Bonding Center after Fairchild Industries had closed the bonding plant.

At that time, Rohr President Harry W. Todd told employees that the aerospace firm had plans to stay in Washington County for a long time. He used the year 2000 as a conservative effort.

Washington County Commissioner Gregory I. Snook had worked at Fairchild and later for Rohr as a bonding supervisor, leaving in 1989.

"I know a lot of people out there and we'll try to do what we can to help them. We'll first make contact with the state and see what happens there," he said.

BFGoodrich makes aircraft equipment and specialty chemicals. Aerostructures builds aircraft engine housings.

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