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Youngwood employees told fabrication plant will close by late summer

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 4:09 p.m.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
MIlacron DME in Youngwood, as seen on Monday, March 20, 2017. has plans to close by the end of summer, The company, one of the longtime employers in the borough, has operated the plant for around 60 years, and employs approximately 70 people.

DME Youngwood, a plant that fabricates metal bases used in the plastic-molding industry, is expected to close by late summer.

Parent company Milacron, based in Cincinnati, told employees Friday that all operations will move to an affiliated DME plant in Greenville, Mich. The move will affect 63 positions at the Youngwood plant, mostly in manufacturing.

“Youngwood had for many decades been key in DME's mold base manufacturing in North America. But, with the introduction of new manufacturing technologies and the continued migration of mold manufacture overseas, the facility was no longer able to compete cost effectively,” DME President and General Manager Peter Smith said in a statement. “By consolidating to a single U.S. operation, we can direct our investment funds to build a new world-class site at Greenville.”

According to the statement, Milacron deems the move necessary for long-term competitiveness and intends to update the Greenville plant, which it considers ideally located to serve North American customers.

Where possible, Milacron said, Youngwood employees will be offered relocation to the Greenville plant or other company sites. Milacron, with locations around the globe, manufactures, distributes and services customized systems in the plastic technology and processing industry.

Youngwood Mayor Lloyd Crago said he was saddened and shocked when he learned Sunday of the impending loss of local jobs at DME.

“That plant's been here for a long time. I know a lot of people who worked there over the years,” he said.

Founded as Detroit Mold Engineering, DME marks its 75th anniversary this year.

Executive Director Jason Rigone said the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Authority planned to reach out to DME to see if the decision to relocate can be changed. If not, he said, “We'll see what we can do for the employees who are impacted.”

George Reed of North Huntingdon, a machine operator who retired from the Youngwood plant three years ago with more than 35 years of service, said at one time more than 120 people worked at the site.

According to Reed, the plant excelled at turning sheets of steel into a finished product.

“I thought that's why they'd never close us down,” he said.

But he felt the company “kept going downhill” with changes in management. “I figured, ‘I'm going to retire while I can,' ” he said.

If the shutdown occurs, “I would hope somebody would come in and purchase the property,” said Youngwood Borough Manager Diane Schaefer. “It's a direct impact to our tax base and our residents.”

Spokesman Michael Ellis said it's too early for Milacron to comment about a potential sale of the Youngwood plant. Milacron went through a restructuring beginning in 2001 that included shedding more than 1,000 jobs, including about 750 in North America, and closing 14 small plants.

The company reported net income of $30.5 million in 2016, with earnings of $1.1 million in the fourth quarter.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or jhimler@tribweb.com.

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