Junction plant to close

September 05, 2003|LIZ MAPLES


Staff Writer

JUNCTION CITY - Penn Ventilator Company, one of the largest employers here, told its employees Thursday that it will close by the end of the year and move its operations elsewhere.

In the past year, the company has closed plants in Minnesota, Indiana and Texas. Some of the Indiana operations were then consolidated into the Junction City plant.

The local plant employs 85 people, some working there since the day it opened in the mid-1960s. Penn has paid the city about $4,200 a year for water and $1,500 a year in property taxes.


Mayor G.G. Harmon said that, besides the jobs lost, the city's restaurants and gas stations would suffer because of the loss of patronage.

"I hate to see them go," he said.

Council members who are in favor of a 1 percent payroll tax, had counted on the employees to help the city in its financial crunch. Harmon is not in favor such a tax.

Nearly all the employees were members of the National Sheet Metal Workers Local 433.

Union representative David Snyder said that the people there Friday morning were in shock and that they had no idea that the closure announcement was coming.

"We're upset, angry," he said. "Just really don't know what to do."

The union and company will meet in several weeks to talk about severance packages. The company will work with Kentucky to coordinate job search for employees.

"It has nothing to do with employees ... nothing to do with the union ... it's just strictly economics," said Bob Williams, with Air Systems Components L.P. in Dallas, the company that manages Penn Ventilator plants.

The company hasn't decided where it will move the Junction City operations.

Penn manufactures fans and ventilation systems for fast food restaurants, hotels, factories and the military.

Williams said that their plants have been producing more fans than it could sell and that the fan industry had declined nationwide.

Penn Ventilator Company was started in 1928 by three brothers when their employer went bankrupt.

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