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Kennametal in talks with union about closing its Carbidie plant in Hempfield | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Kennametal in talks with union about closing its Carbidie plant in Hempfield

Joe Napsha
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Kennametal Inc. Carbidie plant along Arona Road in Hempfield.

Kennametal Inc. could close its Carbidie manufacturing operations in Hempfield, potentially shuttering yet another of the industrial toolmaker’s Westmoreland County plants.

“No final decisions have been made at this time, and we are currently in discussions with (United Steelworkers) … about this plan,” Kennametal spokeswoman Christina Sutter said in an email.

Ronald Bowser, a USW representative in the North Versailles office, could not be reached for comment.

Kennametal has not notified the state Department of Labor and Industry of plans to close the Arona Road site, based on public notices. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining, or WARN, Act requires most businesses with 100 or more workers to provide a 60-day advance notification of plant closings. It is unclear how many people work at the Carbidie plant.

If the Hempfield location closes, Sutter would not say whether those manufacturing jobs would be relocated to another facility in the region. She declined to comment further.

The company maintains a corporate center in Unity and its headquarters in Pittsburgh. As of three years ago, Kennametal employed about 900 people in Westmoreland County at its Unity technology center and manufacturing plants in Irwin and Hempfield.

Kennametal acquired the Carbidie plant from Greenfield Industries in 1997. Carbidie was founded in Latrobe in 1953 as a company that made high-quality carbide sections held to a specified tolerance, according to Kennametal. Carbidie products became an important component of tools that manufacturers used to make consumer and industrial products, including razor blades, baby diapers, bandages, pharmaceuticals, soda can tabs, bricks, ceramic roof tiles and electrical motors.

As Kennametal talks with the USW about the future of the plant, CEO Christopher Rossi said last week in a quarterly earnings call that the company is moving into the next phase of its simplification and modernization program. It expects to save an estimated $35 million to $40 million annually by July 2020. That restructuring, however, is expected to cost Kennametal $55 million to $65 million through that period.

Kennametal’s net income rose to $70.1 million for the quarter ending March 31, up $17 million from the same quarter a year ago, even though sales fell by $10.7 million to $597.2 million.

Rossi did not offer specifics but said Kennametal may make additional changes in its transformation process, which he said is “fundamental to the success of the company going forward.”

In 2016, Kennametal cut 1,000 jobs from its global workforce of 12,000 employees to save a projected $100 million. A decade ago, the company slashed 1,200 jobs from its worldwide operations, again to save an estimated $100 million.

Kennametal closed plants it operated in Westmoreland County at Kingston and Chestnut Ridge.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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