Exclusive: Navistar keeps 200 workers

About 200 former employees of Continental AG's two Richland County truck part plants have been picked up by new owner Navistar.

The workers who were retained began working Monday, said a spokesman for Navistar, the Warrenville, Ill.-based trucking giant that bought the Blythewood plant and the Columbia research facility last year.

About 300 Midlands jobs had been on the line since the end of 2008 when Continental announced plans to close the two facilities and consolidate operations in Virginia.

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

Efforts to reach a Continental spokeswoman were unsuccessful.

The company last month said those employees not hired by Navistar "would be eligible for severance and outplacement benefits according to Continental policies."

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

The trucking company announced at the end of last year that it was buying the facilities that had been supplying it with fuel injection systems. At the time, company officials said they did not know how many jobs would be spared.

Navistar's operation in Blythewood is now called Pure Power Technologies Inc. Pure Power will continue to manufacture the injection systems for Navistar's diesel engine unit, MaxxForce.

In addition to the jobs retained, Navistar is advertising high level jobs - mostly project managers and senior project managers - on several Web sites.

"We always advertise for positions," Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley said from his suburban Chicago office. "That's an ongoing process."

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 based in Germany.