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FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — Nearly a century of making pens in this southeast Iowa city will end this spring.

BIC USA Inc. plans to complete the shutdown of the Sheaffer Pen factory by the end of March, affecting about 40 workers, officials said Thursday.

“This has been a challenging transition over the past few years, and we thank the Sheaffer work force for their dedication and patience,” said Ron Davanzo, general manager of Sheaffer Pen, in a press release.

Sheaffer's fountain pen point assembly department will be moved to a third-party manufacturer in Asia. Customer service, purchasing, information technology, warehousing and distribution operations, packaging and quality control will go to Slovakia.

Service and repair will be handled by Sheaffer's distributor, Hampton-Haddon Marketing Corp., in Philadelphia.

Sheaffer's product development department, which has three employees, moved to another facility in Fort Madison in December.

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A jeweler named Walter A. Sheaffer founded Sheaffer Pen in 1913. At its height, the company employed more than 1,000 people in Fort Madison.

The Sheaffer family sold Sheaffer Pen in 1967. BIC took over 30 years later. Corporate officials announced their intentions to close the plant in 2003.

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