Keystone plant to close, costing 52 their jobs

Columbus Dispatch - February 23, 2007
   

The Columbus Dispatch

By Paul Wilson

Fallout from struggles by domestic automakers will cost Columbus 52 manufacturing jobs. 

Keystone Powdered Metal Co. said yesterday that it will close its plant at 2100 Advance Ave. this year. Demand for the company?s products declined as U.S. automakers, Keystone?s primary customers, lost market share in recent years, it said.

Counting Columbus, Pennsylvania-based Keystone has four manufacturing operations. Paul Orr, Columbus plant manager, would not comment when asked why the South Side plant was picked to close.

Keystone makes gears, bearings and sprockets.

The news continues a yearslong pattern in Ohio of manufacturing job loses at companies that supply U.S. automakers. Faced with billions of dollars in losses and increasing competition, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors all are shrinking, said Jon Honeck, an analyst with Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based nonprofit research group.

“There?s a shakeup in the U.S. domestic auto industry,” Honeck said. “If a company is really dependent on the U.S. auto industry and isn?t able to diversify, it?s going to run into problems.”

International competition caused more Ohio manufacturing employees to lose jobs in 2006 than in any year in the past decade, Honeck wrote in a January report. Thousands worked for Delphi Corp., a GM spinoff that is undergoing massive restructuring.

Keystone operated its Columbus plant since 1987. Forty-three workers will lose their jobs April 20, with nine more leaving in May and June, the company said in a letter to government officials.

Keystone, founded in 1927, is a privately held company with more than $86 million in sales and more than 750 employees, the company Web site said. Keystone has manufacturing operations at its headquarters in St. Marys, Pa., and in Lewis Run, Pa., and Cherryville, N.C.

The Columbus plant had more than $15 million in sales, the Web site said.

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