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W.Va. Corning plant to pick up production

December 15, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The shifting of part of Corning Consumer Products Co.'s Corelle line from a Pennsylvania plant to one at Inwood, W.Va., will help to stabilize the local work force, a company official said Monday.

Production employees at Inwood have been out of work since the plant closed its production lines before Thanksgiving. The plant is expected to be closed until after the first of the year, said Michael Gochenhour, president of the local union at Corning.

One employee who asked not to be named said the shutdown will last about six weeks.

The Inwood plant, which has about 350 employees, has closed before at this time of year for what company officials call an inventory adjustment. Corning Ware and the company's Vision line of cookware are the plant's main products.

On Monday, David T. Lanzillo, spokesman at Corning's headquarters in New York, said the company will cease production of its Pyroceram brand commercial tableware at its plant in Charleroi, Pa.

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That decision includes shifting the manufacture of Corelle cups from Charleroi to the Inwood plant. The transfer will not require any new hires but will help to solidify employment at the Inwood plant, Lanzillo said.

Lanzillo said the move will mean the loss of half of the Charleroi plant's 580-member work force. He said the consolidation will enhance Corning's manufacturing efficiency and service to its customers.

The Charleroi plant will continue to make Corning's Pyrex brand oven bakeware, he said.

The production shift will have no effect on Corning's distribution plant in Greencastle, Pa., Lanzillo said.

Corning can no longer compete profitably with its Pyroceram line of commercial tableware, he said. The line was introduced in the 1960s. Its customers were schools, restaurants and institutions.

Production of Pyroceram products will be phased out through February, Lanzillo said.

"This was a difficult decision because we have a loyal, skilled work force in Charleroi," Peter Campanella, Corning president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared release. "However, we operate in an ultra-competitive retail environment and the efficiencies we will gain through the consolidation are critical for our future."

Corning's Consumer Products Division was sold to the Borden family of companies in March for $603 million. Its sales in 1996 were $630 million.

The division has more than 3,500 employees in plants in the U.S., Asia, Australia, Canada and Latin America. Its headquarters is in Corning, N.Y.

The Borden companies are privately owned by the investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

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