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US - 15 jobs lost as Kulp Foundry closes; sales office remains

A manufacturing company in business for more than 60 years locally has cast its last iron. Kulp Foundry, which weathered everything from the Flood of 1955 to changing business environments, informed employees last week at its East Stroudsburg plant that production has ceased. The production shutdown will cost about 15 jobs, according to Kevin Detrick, chairman of the board of Kulp Foundry. The sales staff remains.

Detrick said the current business climate proved too difficult for the company to overcome. Production is being consolidated with Fairmount Foundry Inc. of Hamburg. The company had been one of Kulp's biggest competitors, Detrick said. "Instead of two foundries operating marginally, we decided to combine them to make one, more sustainable business," he said. Detrick said Kulp's business has fallen off recently and the company has been downsizing through the years.

The 25 employees the company had before the end of production was down from about three times that number a few years ago. The most recent downsizing came in 2008 when the company went from 37 employees to 25. "And before that it was 60, before that it was 70," Detrick said. "It's been happening for years." Detrick said that in the next few days Kulp will learn about possible production job opportunities at Fairmount's facility for laid-off local workers.

He said Fairmount's foundry was superior to Kulp's, which is why production was consolidated to the Berks County facility. The consolidation was necessary because sales had dropped. "It came down to a couple of things," Detrick said. "The demand for sales wasn't good and the prospect of them picking up in 12 months doesn't look very strong. There was also equipment maintenance (at the local plant) that would have been very difficult to justify with the low sales." Detrick said much of the production for foundries like Kulp, which produces gray and ductile iron, has been outsourced overseas.

He also said foundries have a very high cost of operation because of equipment upgrades and environmental compliance regulations. Kulp served businesses not only in the northeast part of the country, but also as far as Georgia, Texas and California. Kulp Foundry has been in business since 1946. In 1955, the facility at Third Street in Stroudsburg was washed out by floodwaters. According to the company's Web site, employees helped hasten the building of the facility in the industrial park on Stokes Avenue in East Stroudsburg. "This spirit and employee loyalty is one of the key reasons for the company's past, present, and future success in the manufacturing industry," the Web site states.

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