Canton, OH — The Timken Company plans to begin closing its Canton, Ohio, bearing manufacturing operations. The company expects most of the production to be shifted to its other U.S. plants. Current employment at the three Canton bearing plants is 1,300 people. The Canton-based steel operations are unaffected by the decision.
“We have been meeting with the union for more than eight months to discuss how to make our bearing operations competitive in our changing global marketplace,” said James W. Griffith, president and CEO. “We are disappointed that our talks with the union did not lead to the changes necessary to make these facilities viable. Therefore, we will begin moving the products to plants where they can be manufactured competitively.”
“We continue to take a close look at our manufacturing network to create focussed factories that are globally competitive and better serve our customers,” said Griffith. “The acquisition of The Torrington Company has provided more options that allow us to produce these products competitively. We expect no disruption of supply during this transition.”
The company will now meet with the union about this decision, which was revealed May 15, 2004. More specific information will not be available until after those discussions, including: the timing of the closure; the impact on employment; and the magnitude of the savings and charges for restructuring and implementation, which could be material.
In September 2003, the company began a series of meetings with the union and associates in the Canton bearing operations to discuss what needed to be done to make the plants competitive. At that time, the company made it clear that the Canton bearing operations could not continue to operate in their current form.
The company indicated it was willing to make the investments necessary to create a focussed, competitive operation in the Canton bearing plants if these investments were accompanied by contract modifications. Since then, the company and the union have been unable to agree on the necessary changes.
Production at the Canton bearing plants has declined 27% over the past five years as the cost structure of the operations made it difficult to win new business. The plan to close the Canton bearing operations is consistent with Timken’s overall strategy to make the company more profitable, more customer-centric and better able to grow.
Timken manufactures highly engineered bearings and alloy steels and provides related products and services with operations in 27 countries. It recorded 2003 sales of $3.8 billion and employed approximately 26,000 at year-end. Timken employs 4,800 in Stark County, Ohio, where the Canton plant is located.