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USA - Grede Foundries to close Wichita plant

Grede Foundries, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June, said Thursday it will close its foundry in Wichita. The plant, at 805 E. Boston, will close in early spring 2010. A plant in Vassar, Mich., also will be shut down.

The Wichita plant, which has about 90 employees, is the smallest of the Grede facilities, Grede chairman Richard Koenings said in a news release. The foundry's work will be moved to other Grede facilities. Earlier this year, Grede laid off 57 people in Wichita. At its peak in Sept. 2005, Grede employed 246 people in Wichita, spokesman Evan Zeppos said.

Grede was founded in 1920 and specializes in ferrous metals. According to its Web site, Grede acquired the Wichita foundry in 1966. The foundry here produces ductile iron castings for hydraulic, internal combustion, transmission, heavy equipment and other applications.

Koenings said the decision to shut down the plants will allow the company to realign its production capacity to position itself for the post-recession economy and the reduced worldwide market, particularly in the automotive industry.

"This realignment will be phased in gradually during the next 4-6 months and will not occur quickly," Koenings said. "We expect both facilities to be extremely busy during this period."

Grede's headquarters are in Milwaukee and it also has production facilities in St. Cloud, Minn.; New Castle, Ind.; Reedsburg, Wis.; and Iron Mountain, Mich.

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