As Parker Hannifin begins the process of closing its New Haven plant, city officials are gearing up to work with area agencies to find local placement for employees who will be displaced over the coming months.
The facility’s closure will affect about 150 employees, company officials said Thursday. Manufacturing will be transferred to other Parker Hannifin locations in Tennessee and Missouri. The New Haven plant will fully close within the next 12 months. Parker Hannifin has owned the location since 2001 when it was purchased from Aeroquip.
"We’ll be working with individuals, finding out what their skill sets are and match with other opportunities in the immediate area," said Brian Yoh, New Haven’s director of planning and economic development. "The goal is to find positions for employees within the local market so they don’t have to face the possibility of relocating."
Parker Hannifin isn’t the first major employer to decide this year to close its operations in New Haven. Vera Bradley, which had operated a sewing factory there since 2008, announced in March it was closing its factory, laying off 250 employees. Those layoffs were on top of 150 layoffs that occurred last August when the handbag manufacturer ended the factory’s second shift.
Yoh said it’s always a challenge when a large employer pulls out of a community but added that exactly how the plant’s closing will affect New Haven remains to be seen.
"Any time you lose jobs, I think the social impact is obviously very serious," he said. "But the economic impact (of the Parker plant’s closure) is very hard to calculate right now."
Parker Hannifin is a manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. The company employs about 57,500 people in 50 countries.
A statement issued by the company said: "This was not an easy decision to make given the impact it has on employees but it was the only viable option to maintain the competitiveness of the product line. Current and projected demand for the precision cooling products made here can no longer support the manufacturing capacity in New Haven."
The statement also notes that displaced employees will also receive transitional resources including severance pay, 90 days’ company-paid medical coverage and outplacement services.
"The planned closure of manufacturing in New Haven in no way reflects the performance of our dedicated and long-serving employees there," the Parker Hannifin statement states.
It’s not the first time Parker Hannifin has eliminated jobs at its New Haven plant. In September 2007, the company laid off 100 employees, citing a slowdown in the air conditioning sales market and competition from Chinese manufacturers.
The news of the impending closure of the plant at 10801 Rose Ave. appears to have taken New Haven city officials by surprise.
The company did not notify city officials of plans to close the plant, Yoh said. He added that he was notified of the plant’s planned closure in an email Wednesday.
It’s a situation Yoh described as "frustrating."
"I’m sad to say it’s a common tale, as we’ve seen with a lot of closures here in the Fort Wayne-Allen County area," he said.
New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald has been in touch with Parker Hannifin to discuss the closure and noted that the elimination of jobs from New Haven is "always of great concern."
"The City of New Haven is of course deeply saddened to hear the news that 150 people will no longer be working at the Parker Hannifin facility. In light of this upcoming closure, we will continue to work with our partners at the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, WorkOne and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. as we find ways to help the families affected by the closure," McDonald said in a statement. "We will work aggressively to market and find a company to fill the building at this property."