December 15, 2012

West Columbia plant closing will cost 147 jobs

Pexco is set to wind down final operations by the spring, spokesman Matthew Robida said.

Pexco will close its West Columbia operations early next year, putting 147 people out of work.

The former Southern Plastics factory was opened in 1940 by Irwin Kahn and has been part of Pexco – formerly American Filtrona Corp. – since 1970, the Atlanta-based company said.

The facility makes plastic sheets and molds that then are formed into products such as bathtubs and lighting fixtures, spokesman Matthew Robida said. Pexco is exiting the plastic sheets business to focus on specialty plastics, and is selling its assets and order book to Plaskolite of Columbus, Ohio.

The plant is set to wind down final operations by the spring, Robido said. The company is working with the S.C. Dislocated Worker Unit to help its full-time employees find work. The company periodically uses temporary, part-time workers as well, Robida said.

“This has been a difficult decision but a necessary one for our overall business,” Pexco chief executive Neil Shillingford said in a statement. “Pexco’s core business is specialty plastics and profile extrusion. Extruded sheet has been a bit of an anomaly for us and, after an in-depth review, we have decided to sell this line of business and focus on our core capabilities.”

The plant – the company’s oldest – is 168,000 square feet. More than half of its production was in sheet plastic for the lighting industry and industrial applications, the company said. The plant also made other plastics for the retail lawn and garden markets. That manufacturing will be transferred to four of the company’s other nine locations in Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago and Monterrey, Mexico, the company said.

Columbia-area employees might be able to transfer to one of those locations. Otherwise, the company said it will provide severance packages and training assistance to help them find other jobs in the Columbia area.

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