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29. November 2007

Die casting plant to lay off 100 workers

Gibbs corporation to consolidate North American operations into one plant

HARLINGEN — A local die casting plant will lay off more than 100 employees, blaming a decreasing market share and slow American auto sales.

Gibbs Die Casting Corporation, established in 1965, announced this week that it would consolidate its North American operations from two plants to one.

The headquarters is in Henderson, Ky. Gibbs-Texas Die Casting, located at 1209 Industrial Way, opened its doors in 1999.

Around the world, there are plants in Brazil, Hungary, Korea and China, according to the company’s Web site.

The tool and die-casting company makes castings for auto parts. At the local plant, jobs ranged from skilled technicians and toolmakers to general laborers, previous reports state.

The consolidation is expected to be completed by the end of February 2008, a company news release states.

“The consolidation is a result of the declining market share of the traditional U.S. auto makers and the downturn of North American auto sales,” the release states.

Local and corporate officials with the company declined to answer questions about the closing of the Harlingen plant that hires 67 permanent employees and 37 temporary workers.

With the closure, Gibbs announced that shipments to customers would not be affected. All products being produced here will be transferred to plants in Henderson, Ky., the news release states.

To reduce the blow of losing their jobs, two local agencies said they are working to put the former Gibbs employees back into the workforce with new training.

Adam Hutchison, the associate vice president of Texas State Technical College’s Corporate College, said CameronWorks is looking for grants to further the workers’ education and enhance their job skills.

Officials with CameronWorks could not be reached for comment.

TSTC is a training provider for the Harlingen Manufacturer’s Association, a group of which Gibbs is a member. Also, many of the company’s employees have taken courses at TSTC over the years, Hutchison said.

“We regret that their local operation is closing, and we are confident that the job skills acquired at Gibbs, as well as the training received at TSTC, will allow the employees to find comparable jobs here in the area,” Hutchison said.

In the past, with the closings of Fruit of the Loom and the Levi’s plants, the two organizations helped a number of laid-off employees with training, Hutchison said.

“It worked out real well,” he said. “Many got advanced degrees and some finally earned their GED.”

The responsibility to find the funds lies with CameronWorks, he said.

“If funds are made available for these employees to further their education through CameronWorks, TSTC stands ready to provide the highest quality education, including (a) customized curriculum if requested, to assist Gibbs’ employees,” Hutchison said.

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