April 28, 2016

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Oxford’s Caterpillar plant to consolidate, close

Oxford’s Caterpillar employees received notice today that the local plant is closing and a full closure could be over the next 12 to 18 months.

Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby called the news “a big blow.”

“We’re obviously devastated over it. It’s devastating news to all of us,” Busby said. “You never like to lose jobs in the county. We know the impact this will have on the families of the employees in Lafayette County and we will work tirelessly to fill these jobs as soon as possible.”

Below is a release from Caterpillar corporate headquarters and what was shared with employees this afternoon:

Caterpillar continues to take costs out of its business to align with lower demand as part of an aggressive and significant restructuring initiative first announced in September 2015. These actions are resulting in substantial cost reduction for the company in these tough market conditions.

As part of those global restructuring efforts, the company today notified its workforce of five facility closures and one building demolition of significant manufacturing square footage across five U.S. states. These decisions enable the company to be more efficient and better utilize its manufacturing assets. The closures will result in a reduction of about 820 positions. Announcements include:

    • Production of buckets and other work tool attachments for the medium wheel loader product line in the Jacksonville, Florida, facility will move to existing suppliers. The Jacksonville facility is expected to close by year-end 2016, impacting about 70 positions.
    • Caterpillar will close the Morganton, North Carolina, facility where it manufactures engine and undercarriage components. Some production will shift to other Caterpillar facilities. The rest will transition to outside suppliers. This closure impacts about 110 positions. Production is expected to continue into 2017. The final transition for the consolidation is expected to be completed within the next 12-18 months.
    • On Caterpillar’s Mossville, Illinois, campus, it will demolish Building BB. The building, which used to house engine manufacturing, has been mostly vacant since 2011, and therefore, employment will not be impacted. Preparations will begin this spring, with demolition beginning later this year. Demolition will result in a net cost savings for Caterpillar, as the company will eliminate the ongoing maintenance and operating costs of the structure.
    • The company will consolidate two facilities in South Carolina that are part of its generator set business into existing Caterpillar engine facilities throughout the United States. The facilities that will close are the electric power generator set packaging facility in Newberry, South Carolina, and the generator set control panel assembly facility in Ridgeway, South Carolina. This will result in a reduction of about 325 positions in Newberry and about 75 in Ridgeway. The work will be consolidated into existing Caterpillar engine facilities in Seguin, Texas, Lafayette, Indiana, and Griffin, Georgia. This transition is expected to begin this year and be completed in the next 12-18 months.
    • In Oxford, Mississippi, the company will close its facility that produces hose couplings and move some operations into Caterpillar’s Menominee, Michigan, facility. The remainder of operations will be transitioned to suppliers. The closure will impact around 240 positions. Production is expected to continue into 2017. The final transition for the consolidation is expected to be completed within the next 12-18 months.

Since September 24, 2015, restructuring has resulted in the elimination of approximately 5,300 positions through the first quarter of 2016. Including today’s announcements, the company has announced the closure or consolidation of about 20 facilities, which represents about 7 percent reduction of square footage.

Caterpillar recognizes these restructuring actions are painful for its dedicated workforce, their families and the impacted communities. The decisions are difficult, however, it is necessary to have the right capacity in place for the tough market conditions the company is facing.