Brookville hit with another challenge as plant announces closing

A Brookville manufacturer has announced it will close its factory and lay off more than 100 workers.

The announcement is another challenge for a city that has seen its share this year, from the closing of the giant Payless Shoe distribution center to massive damage from a Memorial Day tornado that ripped through much of the Miami Valley.

IMI Precision Engineering — also known as Norgren Inc. — will close its facility at 325 Carr Drive, Brookville, at the end of May 2020, the company said in a letter to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“This is going to have a very large impact on the city of Brookville,” Sonja Keaton, Brookville city manager, said Monday. “With the loss of approximately 109 employees, this will be a major blow to our income tax, as IMI-Norgren is one of our top employers in the city of Brookville.”

Keaton pledged to work closely with the company and Montgomery County to locate jobs for affected employees.

“We will also work closely with the property owner to make sure the building does not sit vacant for long,” she said.

Keaton could not provide a precise income tax impact.

Amid the bad news for Brookville lies a potential bright spot, however.

A General Motors spokesman said Monday that with the end of the United Auto Workers strike against GM, the company can focus anew on its potential DMAX expansion, which the Dayton Daily News first reported in September.

DMAX is the jointly owned GM-Isuzu maker of diesel Duramax truck engines. GM has confirmed tentative plans to build a new $175 million DMAX plant on farm land in Brookville, although there has been no definitive announcement from GM yet.

A spokesman for GM said that with the strike ended, DMAX workers can return to the job at their Moraine plant and the company can continue to refine plans for the possible Brookville plant.

On Friday, GM and the UAW announced that workers ratified a four-year labor agreement covering almost 50,000 workers at 55 UAW-represented sites across the U.S.

The new agreement provides GM hourly workers with a three-percent wage increases or four-percent lump sum payments in each of the four years of the contract, as well as an $11,000 signing bonus for regular employees, and $4,500 for temporary employees.

“The company can focus now on returning to what it does best,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said Monday.

Keaton said GM has already started preliminary construction work — “moving dirt” and identifying entrances — at the location, near the former Payless center, off West Campus Boulevard and Arlington Road. But she said GM has not confirmed to her that it will go forward with the project.

The possible new local GM plant would have just over 100 employees, with about 18 transfers from the existing DMAX plant, which would continue to operate in Moraine, GM has said. The Moraine plant has about 800 workers.

“Our full-size truck business is very strong,” Flores said Monday. “And the new heavy-duty pickup that we launched this past summer — that we started shipping to dealers in July — the DMAX team plays a big part in that. We think we have a world-class, rock solid diesel engine that plays an important part in our heavy-duty pickup line-up.”

At Norgren, layoffs will start in January, according to a letter to Ohio government from Sam Henderson, vice president of human resources in the Americas for IMI Precision Engineering.

“Approximately 109 permanent layoffs will result from this site closure,” Henderson wrote. “The layoffs are expected to begin Jan. 17, 2020, along with two additional layoff periods March 13, 2020 and May 29, 2020, complete site closure by end of May 2020.”

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Employees at this site are not represented by a union and do not have bumping rights, although they may apply to other IMI Precision Engineering locations, Henderson added.

Henderson did not return a message seeking comment.

All affected employees will receive a severance according to the policy of one week of base salary per year of completed service, along with COBRA health insurance and other benefits, the letter said.

Machine operators, along with CNC (computer numeric control) operators and programmers will be affected, along with other positions, the company said.

Littleton, Colo.-based Norgren Americas specializes in motion and fluid control technologies, focusing on pneumatic actuator products.

A decade ago, Montgomery County approved $300,000 in development funds for what at the time was hoped to be a new Norgren 75,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Brookville’s NorthBrook Industrial Park.

Keaton said the company never received the funds because Norgren decided not to build the building.

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