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Move may add jobs at Grove

May 10, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The Manitowoc Co. Inc. will close its National Crane boom-truck manufacturing plant in Waverly, Neb., and move its production line to the Grove Worldwide plant in Shady Grove, a company official said Friday.

The move may mean as many as 50 additional jobs at the Shady Grove plant, said Thomas G. Musial, senior vice president of human resources and administration at Manitowoc's headquarters in Wisconsin.

National Crane and Grove were bought last year by Manitowoc. The corporation paid $271 million for Grove.

The Nebraska plant will close at the end of the year, Musial said. He said some of the plant's nearly 300 employees will transfer to Shady Grove, but he didn't know how many.

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The Lincoln Journal Star newspaper in Lincoln, Neb., reported no production jobs will transfer to Shady Grove. Some support staff members, including engineering and sales personnel, may transfer, the newspaper said.

Grove officials referred inquiries to Musial.

The move to Shady Grove will improve long-term utilization and productivity, Manitowoc officials said in a press release Friday.

One reason given for the move was the advanced production systems already at Grove. The company spent more than $13 million modernizing its production facilities in 2001.

"It's a very painful step for the people in the Nebraska plant, but from our standpoint it's welcome news," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. "It starts to create a foundation from which Grove can re-establish itself.

"The company lost a lot of people in the last two to three years," Ross said.

Grove was sold to Keystone Investment Co. of Fort Worth, Tex., in 1997 for $605 million. At the time Grove was Franklin County's largest employer, boasting a payroll of more than 2,500 workers.

The company fell on bad times in the ensuing years followed by continuous layoffs which eventually cut the workforce down to about 1,000 workers.

The last layoffs, affecting 40 workers, occurred in October 2002

Grove filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. The company cut its debt from $584 million to $205 million. A bailout by a banking group and bondholders brought Grove back into the black within a year.

"A lot of people thought Grove was a doomed company, but it took some very painful steps to get itself into a position to be sold," Ross said. "It downsized its work force, modernized its plant and worked itself out of bankruptcy," he said.

Ross said the Shady Grove plant, with its skilled workers and modern equipment, is ready to take on the National Crane production line.

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