Plant struggling to hang on


PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) – An auto plastics plant where 530 people work will close unless struggling owner Collins & Aikman Corp. is able to find a buyer by March 3, the company says.

The Southfield-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2005. In November 2006, the company said it expected to sell part or all of its operations in an effort to get the most money to repay creditors and save as many jobs as possible. The company already has announced it is closing its New Hampshire plants.

Vice President David Youngman said prospects for the Port Huron plant are not good.

“Although we’ve had some success generating interest for some of our facilities, it was recognized that some of our facilities are less likely to be sold,” Youngman said. “The Port Huron plant is one of the facilities that is considered less likely to be sold, although we will continue to attempt to complete a sale of that operation.”

On Jan. 5, the company said it planned to close five plants in Americus, Ga.; Dover and Farmington, N.H.; and Gananoque and Scarborough, Ontario, by the end of March. That would cut about 1,140 jobs.

The company has about 14,000 employees at 45 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Collins & Aikman is not expected to close a plant in St. Clair, which has about 180 workers, the Times Herald reported Wednesday.

Youngman said a saturated plastics market is one reason why the Port Huron plant is hard to sell.

The company acquired the Port Huron plant in 2001 from Textron Inc.

Doug Alexander, executive director of the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, and Port Huron City Manager Karl Tomion met with Collins & Aikman officials soon after employees were told of the possible closure this month.

The alliance and the city are willing to work with prospective buyers, Tomion said.

“We’re hopeful, and we’re guardedly optimistic,” Alexander said. “We’re going to do everything we can.”

Tomion said the plant is one of the largest employers in the city of about 32,000 and said its loss could be devastating.

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Information from: Times Herald,

AP-ES-01-24-07 1403EST