Vitro Automotive will close one of its raw-glass production lines at its Meadville, Pennsylvania, plant effective June 10, affecting 108 positions. The ongoing downturn in the U.S. automotive marketplace― worsened by the economic impacts related to the global coronavirus outbreak―necessitated the decision, say Vitro officials in a statement.
Vitro’s Meadville facility will continue operations on Line 1, primarily supplying feedstock for Vitro’s downstream automotive-glass finishing plants in the U.S.
In addition to addressing coronavirus-related market impacts, Meadville’s Line 2 is nearing the end of its productive life and would require a projected $40 million rebuild, say officials. Float-glass production lines require significant reinvestment and rebuild about every 10 years, given normal wear and required technical upgrades. Meadville’s Line 2 was last rebuilt in 2009. Further, Meadville’s Line 1 and Line 2 were operating at about 60 percent capacity related to lingering challenges in the U.S. automotive markets―even before the coronavirus impacts―which doesn’t support a $40 million rebuild of Line 2, according to the company.
“We already faced a difficult combination of factors affecting Line 2’s future―including a growing oversupply of automotive glass in the marketplace―but the latest economic impacts from the coronavirus outbreak are just too much of a hurdle to invest $40 million in rebuilding it,” says Dave Shaffer, Meadville plant manager. “Line 2 will be stopped in an orderly manner, which will give us an opportunity to rebuild if there is a business case to justify the investment.”
Vitro will continue production on Line 2 until June 10. At that time, Vitro will transform the current two-line operation in Meadville into a single continuous-flow production line that will be better suited to meet U.S. automakers’ production demands.
The closure of Line 2 will result in the reduction of 90 hourly and 18 salaried positions of the facility’s 272 total employment. Following the decommissioning of the line on June 10, affected hourly employees will continue to receive healthcare benefits through August 31―fully paid by the company―to support their families through this time.
“We appreciate our colleagues and their contributions through this very difficult time,” says Shaffer. “Our focus is on ensuring that our affected colleagues and their families have the support they need at this time.”