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Steelcase Announces Plant Closings, Layoffs
Jan 28, 2004
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Office furniture maker Steelcase Inc. has announced further actions as part of its ongoing restructuring effort in North America. The company will close its U.S. wood furniture manufacturing plants in New Paris, IN and Fletcher, NC, U.S., which employ 160 and 480 people respectively.

Most of the production from these two facilities will move to the company's wood manufacturing facility located in Grand Rapids, MI, U.S. Thee actions will be complete in the next 6 to 12 months and reduce 1,000,000 sq ft of manufacturing space.

In addition to the 640 positions eliminated from these plant closings, the company is reducing approximately 130 salaried positions in North America. At the same time, the company expects to create 150 new manufacturing jobs at its Grand Rapids wood manufacturing facility subject to the successful resolution of negotiations with the state of Michigan.

The company said that restructuring charges provided in its most recent earnings release outlook anticipated these actions. They are part of the company's ongoing multi-year restructuring effort aimed at improving profitability and ensuring the company's competitiveness in the future. Other current initiatives such as the rationalization of underutilized facilities, lean manufacturing, and strategic sourcing are ongoing, the company said.

"The changes we are making now are an evolution of a process that has been in progress for some time and ones we believe will ultimately make Steelcase North America more efficient and profitable," said Frank Merlotti Jr., president of Steelcase North America. "Actions such as these are never easy, but are a reflection of the need to make strategic changes in the way we operate our North America business moving forward."

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