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GRAND RAPIDS January 6, 2016– Dematic, a logistics and supply chain company with a long history in Grand Rapids, announced today that they are considering laying off more than 300 of its workers and moving operations to Mexico.
Scott Wahlfeldt, president of UAW Local 1485, which represents the workers at Dematic’s Plymouth Road facility, says this is nothing but corporate greed driving this threat to relocate.
Wahlfeldt said [these] talks are coming at a time when some of the company’s tax benefits are expiring and their contract is nearing an end. He said Dematic engaged in similar tactics in 2009, when it threatened to move to Memphis, Tennessee, and won pay concessions from its workers.
Since then, Dematic’s sales have grown from $330 million to $1.8 billion, Wahlfeldt said. “Corporate greed, I believe, is the driving force at work here.”
In a press release from Dematic, the company says:
If a decision to relocate is made, the closure of the manufacturing plant could impact as many as 300 positions in fabrication, assembly, warehouse and plant administration.
No other functions should be affected including sales, engineering, solution development and customer service. Dematic is considering this action as part of its proactive focus on operating scaled production facilities across the globe in order to remain cost competitive for its customers.
But Wahlfeldt told the Grand Rapids Press this is less about staying competitive and more about the company trying to dodge taxes and avoid contract negotiations with employees.
Based in Atlanta, Dematic North America is the largest division of the Luxembourg-based company Dematic Group.
Dematic’s factory at the corner of Plymouth Road and Michigan Street NE has been a fixture in the Grand Rapids manufacturing scene for more than 75 years.
The company was founded at the Rapids-Standard Company in 1939 when industrialist James R. Sebastian merged his business, Standard Truck Caster Company, with Rapids Manufacturing Company of Grand Rapids. The company’s name was changed to Rapistan in 1966.
In 1980, the company was acquired by Lear Siegler Corp. and exchanged hands four times until 2006, when it was acquired by Triton, a private equity firm. (Company info courtesy of MLive.)