Nearly 200 people will lose their jobs when Belmond’s largest employer closes in 2020.
Members of Eaton Corp.’s management team notified 184 employees Thursday that the engine-valve manufacturing facility will close by the end of 2020.
“This difficult decision in no way reflects on the hard work of the people in this facility, and we are acutely aware of the impact this type of announcement has on our valued employees and their families,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to acting with care and concern for the Belmond employees and are offering services and support to help them during this transition.”
Eaton Corp. is closing its Belmond facility because it was unable to compete for new and replacement heavy-duty engine-valve production, the company said in a press release.
Brock Teslik has worked at Eaton for two years in the fluid care section. He said he wasn't surprised because business had been going downhill for the past two years, but he didn't think it would close for another couple of years.
"I'm still pretty shook," he said.
He has two brothers who also work at the facility.
Belmond Mayor Frank Beminio says the plant's shuttering is a real loss for the city because a large number of its residents are employed there, but the effects of the closure will also extend beyond the city's borders.
When employees will be laid off will depend on their job responsibility; however, no roles are planned to be eliminated this year, according to the press release.
A 60-day WARN notice will be given to employees before their positions are eliminated as required by state and federal laws.
Eaton said it will provide eligible employees with severance benefits, including increased production incentives and outplacement services, during the transition. All employees are eligible and encouraged to apply for jobs at other Eaton locations.
The company has seven locations relatively close to Belmond, the other Iowa facility is in Shenandoah. Nebraska and Minnesota each have three locations.
Eaton, an international manufacturer headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, opened its Belmond facility in 1981 as part of its vehicle components division, which manufactures vehicle products including emission-control components, engine valves, transmissions, clutches and torque-management products and systems.
Eaton employed nearly 900 people in Belmond during the summer of 1984 following the closure of its Battle Creek, Michigan, plant and the transfer or its employees. The employee roster leveled off at about 700 people once the summer concluded.
Today, Eaton employs about 160 plant workers and about 20 office staff, said Camie Melton Hanily, a company spokeswoman. The company employs about 99,000 people in electrical, hydraulics, aerospace, vehicle and eMobility divisions worldwide, according to its website.
Work being done at the Belmond facility, 700 Luick’s Lane S., will be transferred to other Eaton plants, the company press release states.
“We will work closely with our customers so there is no impact on their business operations,” the release said.
Eaton said it will increase its charitable contributions to local organizations in Belmond chosen by its employees over the next two years, and it will work with the local economic development officials to determine future use for the facility.
Mayor Beminio said city officials have a meeting scheduled with Eaton for Friday morning in the hopes of getting the company to change its mind.
My North Iowa Town: How Belmond works, lives and plays
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