Gunite facility in Elkhart will cease operations Friday

Gunite Corp., is shutting down its Elkhart operation sooner than originally planned.
Posted on Nov. 28, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 28, 2012 at 6:20 p.m.

ELKHART — The last day of operations at the Gunite Corp. in Elkhart will be Friday, the company announced.

Company officials said in July that they planned to shut down the facility on Middlebury Street by early 2013, but officials sped up the phase-out to the end of November, the company said in a prepared statement.

The company has been shifting operations from Elkhart to Rockford, Ill., in recent months.

Part of the reason for the earlier-than-expected closure was the smooth transition of operations to Rockford, a company spokesman said.

The Elkhart facility produces machined brake drums and hubs, drum-hub assemblies and spoke wheels for heavy-duty trucks.

Calls to a corporate spokesman late Wednesday afternoon were not returned.

The company and its employees struggled with on-going speculation about the plant’s future for more than two years.

The company laid off 25 full-time employees about seven months ago

The Elkhart facility employed about 210 people as of July.

It was unknown how many workers will still be employed at the Elkhart plant this week.

Gunite has been in Elkhart for about 29 years.

The Elkhart plant was constructed in the 1970s by a company that owned Kelsey Axle and Brake.

Accuride, Gunite’s parent company, is based in Evansville and acquired the Gunite in 2005.

Last month, Gunite announced third quarter net sales of $49.6 million, down $13.8 million, or 21.8 percent, from the third quarter of 2011. The company attributed that primarily to low-cost offshore competition, customer schedule changes and recent business losses.

The company issued the following statement in a recent quarterly report:

“In response to industry weakness and Navistar’s and Paccar’s decisions to no longer offer Gunite hub and drum assemblies as standard equipment, Gunite eliminated shifts, resized its workforce and will accelerate the consolidation of machining operations from the Elkhart and Brillion (Wis.) facilities into the Rockford operation by the end of November. We continue to discuss opportunities with Navistar and Paccar to minimize the impact of these decisions.”

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