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Kendallville factory closing

Arden Companies to shutter operation, fire 46 workers

A manufacturer of outdoor furniture cushions on Monday announced plans to close its Kendallville factory, putting 46 people out of work by the end of June.

Arden Companies will close its plant at 230 S. Progress Drive E. effective June 29, said Dave Lanni, Arden’s human resources vice president.

Workers at the plant cut, sew and finish cushions and umbrellas for high-end outdoor furniture.

Lanni described the decision as part of an updated company strategy to improve operations and customer service.

The Kendallville plant is older and smaller than the company’s other factories, he said. The location is also relatively inconvenient compared with others, including factories in Texas, California and North Carolina.

Arden’s manufacturing network includes a Fort Wayne campus at 3510 Piper Drive. The local operation is Arden’s largest, sprawling across 330,000 square feet in several buildings, according to the company’s website.

“The closing will only affect our Kendallville facility and will have no impact on any other Arden facilities,” Lanni said in a written statement.

“We have no intentions of doing anything in Fort Wayne at this time,” he said during a phone interview.

The local operation employs about 170, he said.

Kendallville Mayor Suzanne Handshoe said Arden, based in Bingham Farms, Mich., notified her by fax of its closure plan.

“They said there was nothing we could do or offer to change their minds,” she said.

The workforce includes 11 employees with less than 90 days on the job. They were dismissed Monday, Handshoe said.

The remaining 35 workers will lose their jobs by June 29, she said.

The workers are not union members and will not have bumping or transfer rights.

Arden launched its Kendallville operation in 1983, when it made cleaning products, according to the website. Company officials haven’t decided what to do with the 65,000-square-foot building there, Handshoe said.

The mayor, who often visits the city’s employers, was not prepared for Arden’s announcement.

“I was very shocked by it,” she said. “I’m seeing nothing but increased orders and hiring” at other Kendallville manufacturing plants.

Noble County reported 9.3 percent unemployment in March, which was higher than the state average of 8.6 percent.

sslater@jg.net

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