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Flextronics will close two Chambersburg plants

April 24, 2001

Flextronics will close two Chambersburg plants



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


Flextronics Enclosures, a Chambersburg manufacturing company with two local plants, surprised its employees this week when it said both plants will close in June.

More than 160 workers will lose their jobs in the closing, said Michael Cheek, director of operations.

Cheek said workers will be paid through June 22 and will be give a severance package equal to one week's pay for each year worked. Some of the workers may be offered jobs in other company plants, he said.

The company will also help workers find other employment through a jobs fair and employment counseling.

Flextronics, which began business in 1921 as Hennessy Products Inc., manufactures sophisticated electronic cabinets for the telecommunications industry. At one time, Hennessy also made vending machines. It shifted to making cabinets for electronics equipment in the early 1980s, said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

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The company owns a 100,000-square-foot main plant on Progress Drive where the metal cabinets are made. Last year, it leased 60,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Chambers 5 Business Park for expansion. It assembles the electronic equipment that goes into its cabinets.

"News of the closing really came as a surprise to us," Ross said. "From 1997 to last year, Flextronics had a steady increase in employment from about 100 workers to more than 300." The downsizing started in the fall of 2000, he said.

Flextronics Enclosures' corporate headquarters is in Singapore. Its U.S. headquarters is in San Jose, Calif., Cheek said.

He blamed the quick downturn in the telecommunications industry worldwide as a reason why a corporate decision was made to consolidate the company's six U.S. manufacturing plants.

"We just got caught up in it," Cheek said

"We knew the business was slowing down and we also knew the company was considering consolidating its manufacturing facilities," Ross said.

Franklin County proposed a plan that included some economic development incentives to entice Flextronics to consolidate locally but it didn't work out, Ross said.

"The final decision was made in San Jose," he said. "They considered plant capacity, logistics, proximity to the customer base, a whole host of factions in making their decision."

Ross said he believes Flextronics will put its big building on Progress Drive up for sale.

"It's a very functional building. It's in our interest to find someone to buy or lease it," he said.

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