Hundreds of Richland jobs likely saved

Trucking giant Navistar's acquisition of Continental AG's two Richland County truck part plants is a "win-win situation" for both companies that's likely to save hundreds of jobs, officials said Tuesday.

About 300 jobs at the Blythewood plant and Columbia research facility had been hanging in the balance after Continental announced last December plans to close them and consolidate operations in Virginia.

Now, it appears many of those local jobs will be spared as Navistar, based in the west Chicago suburb of Warrenville, Ill., has bought one of its long-time suppliers.

"Many of the employees in the Blythewood and Columbia locations will have an opportunity to gain positions in this new entity," said Kregg Wiggins, a Continental executive.

Just how many jobs will be offered to local workers has not been determined, said Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley, adding that a decision could be made in December.

For now, all workers at the two facilities will be employees of Continental until the end of the year, the company said.

"The majority of the approximately 300 employees at these facilities will be offered employment with Navistar to be effective Jan. 1," Continental said in a news release.

Continental had reported in December 2008 that about 440 people worked at the Richland County facilities.

Those who aren't hired by Navistar "will be eligible for severance and outplacement benefits according to Continental policies," the company added.

"The acquisition of Continental's diesel systems business by Navistar is a win-win situation for all parties," said Wiggins, a senior vice president at Continental.

The Richland County operations will be part of a Navistar subsidiary called Pure Power Technologies Inc. It will continue to manufacture fuel injection systems for Navistar's diesel engine unit, MaxxForce.

Navistar is a manufacturer of heavy and medium trucks, plus school and commercial buses sold under the International brand.

With 2008 sales of nearly $15 billion, the company was founded in 1902 but traces its roots back to Cyrus McCormick, who invented the mechanical reaping machine in 1831.

McCormick started the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co., which became International Harvester Co., a manufacturer of farm equipment and heavy trucks, and eventually Navistar.

Continental is a worldwide manufacturer of automobile and truck parts, headquartered in Germany.