The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 1:00 am

Dana closing Albion plant

Some of 73 workers could move to Fort Wayne facility

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

A Noble County auto parts supplier is closing its warehousing operation and eliminating 73 positions, according to a filing with state officials.

Dana Light Axle Products LLC is closing its service parts and export packaging center at 401 E. Park Drive, Albion, according to a WARN letter to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies planning mass firings or layoffs to notify state and local officials at least 60 days before the effective date.

Job eliminations will begin on or about April 30 and continue through May 31, the letter said. About 43 Dana employees will lose positions, in addition to 30 temporary workers employed by various temp agencies and assigned to work at Dana.

“The decision to close the Albion plant was difficult but ultimately necessary in order to maximize Dana's ability to be competitive within difficult market conditions,” stated the letter, which was signed by plant manager Mike Zunk.

“Employees do not have bumping rights, although some employees may receive offers to work in other Dana locations,” the notice said.

Maumee, Ohio-based Dana Corp. also operates a Fort Wayne facility at 2100 W. State Blvd., where workers make axles, drive shafts, transmissions and other products for light- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers.

The company reported $8.6 billion in 2019 sales. At the time, it employed 36,000 in 34 countries on six continents. Dana will report 2020 annual earnings Feb. 18.

Tena Woenker, Albion's town manager, hasn't received an official closure notice, but has received calls from workers who have said at least 10 workers will be offered jobs at the Fort Wayne plant.

Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, the town of about 2,300 residents is well-positioned to handle the job losses, Woenker said. A significant percentage of Albion's workforce includes people who commute into the community, she said. So the Albion business community likely won't take a hit from reduced residential spending.

There's another factor at play.

“We have several employers who are hiring right now,” Woenker said, listing Dexter Axle, Mobex Global, QSI Automation and Robert Bosch LLC.

“I hate to say it, but maybe it will be a help to other employers,” she said. “I think there's still opportunity, but we don't like to see anybody close down.”

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