MRO Magazine

Timken to shut its St. Thomas bearing plant

St. Thomas, ON -- The Timken Company has announced it will close its plant in St. Thomas in roughly a year. During the next 12 months, the company will be centralizing its support for Canadian customers, moving its customer service function...


St. Thomas, ON — The Timken Company has announced it will close its plant in St. Thomas in roughly a year. During the next 12 months, the company will be centralizing its support for Canadian customers, moving its customer service function together with its sales and engineering professionals to form one, integrated team based in Toronto, very near to its CoLinx shipping facility in Brampton, ON, said Frank Mascia, general manager of Timken Canada LP, Mississauga, ON.

“In the same timeframe, we are consolidating bearing operations in North America, closing our plant in St. Thomas and moving that production to plants in Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina. We anticipate a smooth transition that will result in even stronger service to the Canadian market,” he said.

The consolidation of manufacturing is a result of fundamental changes in Timken’s Mobile Industries business. “The transformation of that business has us focusing in new areas of growth and letting go of business that didn’t bring enough value to customers, This is particularly true in markets like heavy truck, where we have shed unprofitable business at a time when there is excess capacity in the marketplace and within Timken, said Mascia.

“It’s become clear that we now have lower demand for the products made at St. Thomas. Given we have available capacity in other North American plants, closing the St. Thomas plant is a necessary step to improve our service and competitiveness.”

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The changes in customer service stem from an opportunity to improve our structure to better support the Canadian market, added Mascia. “In fact, we are offering all of our customer service professionals the opportunity to relocate from St. Thomas to Toronto.” That includes about a dozen customer service staff. The remaining employees will have the opportunity to apply at other Timken locations.

The St. Thomas plant, which has about 160 active employees, was built in 1946 to serve the Canadian automotive market. Today, the plant manufactures tapered roller bearings for heavy-truck, automotive and industrial markets.

Timken said the St. Thomas plant has been operating at less than 20% capacity with reduced hours throughout 2012, compounding cost pressures. It also commented that St. Thomas is the furthest away from Timken’s customers and has higher costs in getting products to customers.