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Chatham expanding, adding 50 jobs

December 15, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Chatham Technologies Inc., hoping to keep up with the demand for its products in a growing worldwide market, will shift some of its manufacturing operations from its plant on Progress Road to the nearby Chambers 5 Industrial Park, company officials said Wednesday.

The move makes it necessary to add 50 workers to Chatham's existing work force of 250 in the Chambersburg plant, said C.M. Cheek, vice president of Chatham's Pennsylvania operations.

Until August 1997, the local plant operated under Hennessy Products Inc., which began in the 1920s making products for the railroad industry. It added new product lines over the years to keep up with changing markets. Hennessy opened its Progress Road plant in the early 1970s.

Hennessy was bought by Chatham Technologies, a Dallas, Texas, conglomerate of 22 plants worldwide with more than 2,400 employees, Cheek said.

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Hennessy was one of seven companies engaged in the manufacture of electronic enclosures around the world. All merged in 1997 to form Chatham Technologies Inc., Cheek said.

The creation of Chatham reflects trends in the new global economy. Chatham Technologies' major customers include such industry giants as Motorola and Lucent Technologies.

"Our customers want products to be made in the United States, Brazil and China, and now we can do it," he said. "Big companies want to buy products from one big company, not a lot of small ones."

Andrew J. Barnes, who has worked for the Chambersburg plant for six years, for Hennessy and now Chatham, will supervise operations in the Chambers 5 plant.

Barnes said Chatham's electrical integration department will move to the new space. Most of the large electrical boxes made in the Chambersburg plant are empty. Customers historically have opted to wire and install their own electrical components.

But many of the firm's big customers now want Chatham to wire and equip the cabinets, and it's that part of the business that is moving.

The new Chambers 5 space will cover about 22,000 square feet. The Progress Road plant has about 80,000 square feet, Cheek said.

About 30 production and staff employees will move to the new plant. Another 50 new workers must be hired to meet increased production demands and to replace jobs left vacant by attrition, Cheek said.

The sheet-metal work, fabrication, finishing and painting operations will remain at the Progress Road plant, he said.

"We need skilled workers - electricians, fiber optic technicians, welders, machine operators and general laborers who want to learn a skill," said Chatham spokeswoman Cindy Peterson.

"Our needs are immediate," Cheek said. "It's hard to find good employees in this market with its low unemployment. We're competing for good workers."

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