Wisconsin Manufacturing News

With news from Spancrete, PPG Industries, and Kolbe & Kolbe

Spancrete to lay off workers as construction slows to a crawl
Reflecting the major slowdown in the commercial construction industry, The Spancrete Group Inc. has informed the state that it could lay off 231 employees in Wisconsin by the end of the year. Spancrete Industries, the Waukesha-based supplier of pre-cast and pre-stressed concrete products, plans to lay off the majority of its workforce in Waukesha and Valders, west of Manitowoc.

Spancrete laid off 28 employees in Waukesha on Sept. 16, and the company could lay off a total of 105 there by Dec. 12, said Gary Noel, director of employee relations with the company. Before the layoffs, Spancrete had 166 employees in Waukesha.

The company employs more than 200 in Valders and could lay off 126 of the workers there by Nov. 14, Noel said. All layoffs are temporary and are expected to last up to six months, he said. "We expect to bring them back as quickly as we can, but we just don’t know at this point," Noel said. Almost all areas of employment within Spancrete will be affected by the layoffs, Noel said. The only area that will not see layoffs is sales.

In his letter to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Noel stated that Spancrete recently lost a major project in Illinois, and another major project in the Madison area was unexpectedly delayed.

"The crisis of the financial markets within the last several days reaffirmed the fact that the major construction projects that the company had anticipated being awarded and scheduled for production had been cancelled and/or delayed," the letter stated. "The continued deterioration of business conditions in the residential and commercial construction markets compounded by the delays of certain developers in obtaining suitable financing to proceed with residential condominiums and other projects that had been in the company’s backlog appear to have been made much worse by the crisis of the financial markets within the last week."

PPG Industries to shift work to its Oak Creek plant
PPG Industries has announced a restructuring plan that will shift more work to its plant in Oak Creek, which will absorb work currently being done at other plants that will be closed. The Pittsburgh-based company currently has about 500 employees at its Oak Creek plant, which is located at 10800 S. 13th St.

Due to PPG’s planned closing of its Clarkson, Ontario, Canada plant, some work will shift to the company’s facility in Oak Creek, company spokesman Jeremy Neuhart told SBT. "We will preserve the existing jobs in Oak Creek," Neuhart said. "And with this investment there is the potential for new jobs there in the future, given North American market recovery. This will make this plant and the company stronger and more viable in the future."

The company said the restructuring plan will result in approximately $100 million in pretax annual cost savings. The restructuring initiative is part of PPG’s global transformation and the integration of its acquisition of SigmaKalon.

As part of the restructuring, PPG will close several coatings manufacturing facilities, including those in the Ontario plant and a plant in Geldermalsen, Netherlands. Other staffing reductions will occur in PPG’s coatings businesses in North America and Europe, the company said

PPG also will close its Owen Sound, Ont., Canada, glass manufacturing facility in early 2009 and will idle one float glass production line at its Mt. Zion, Ill., facility in the second quarter next year. Other actions will include writing off idle production assets in PPG’s fiber glass and chemicals businesses.

PPG continues to evaluate opportunities to strengthen its global businesses, which may result in additional restructuring actions and related cost savings in 2009.

A pretax charge of approximately $160 million, or 65 cents per share, will be recorded in the company’s third quarter 2008 financial results.

Pittsburgh-based PPG is a global supplier of paints, coatings, chemicals, optical products, specialty materials, glass and fiber glass. The company has more than 150 manufacturing facilities and equity affiliates and operates in more than 60 countries.

Wausau window manufacturer acquires Colorado window builder
Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. Inc., a Wausau-based manufacturer of wood windows and related products, recently purchased Point Five Windows Inc., a Fort Collins, Colo.-based window manufacturer. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Point Five Windows will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Kolbe & Kolbe, and the company’s current management team has been retained. "The acquisition of Point Five is a continuation of our strategy to advance our nationwide leadership position in the high-end window and door market," said Mike Salsieder, president of Kolbe & Kolbe.

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