Salisbury Labinal plant closes two months early

Two months earlier than originally scheduled, manufacturing at Labinal has stopped and the few remaining employees are there closing the Glen Avenue facility.

It will be completely closed by the end of October.

“There were 762 employees at the Salisbury plant at the time of the closing announcement in January 2015. Approximately 100 employees relocated to Denton, Texas,” Kerri Fulks, who handles public relations for the company, told the Salisbury Independent.

“Labinal did everything possible to help employees transition to new employment, including making available job counselors and educational specialists,” she said.

The building is for sale, but Fulks said the company “doesn’t have any formal announcements to make at this time.”

Dave Ryan, executive director of Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development, said this week the challenge has been “to take this situation and made it as positive as we can.”

“Part of that has been to reach out to the folks who are impacted and to the company and add state and county resources and corporate resources to transition to new opportunities. And, meanwhile, we are out scouring the marketplace and promoting our community to new companies, as well,” he said.

HomeGoods will open this month at The Centre at Salisbury.

Although the retail store is a different kind of business than Labinal, opening in Salisbury indicates the company’s confidence in the city, Ryan said.

In January 2016, it was suddenly announced Labinal would close, sending a wave of concern through the community and prompting letters and phone calls to Safran officials from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Sen. Jim Mathias, state delegates and Jim Ireton, who was mayor of Salisbury at the time.

Mikulski met with Peter Lengyel, president and CEO of Safran, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford, CEO of Labinal Global Alain Saurent, President of Labinal North America Jorge Ortega and the general manager of Labinal in Salisbury hoping to find a way to keep the company in Salisbury.

Mathias said an official at Labinal told him the company won’t reconsider, not because Maryland is unfriendly to commerce but because of changes in defense contracting and the need to consolidate.

A Labinal spokeswoman said the move was due to “an increasingly competitive market and price pressures.”

Employees were promised transition packages and job training support.

At the time, Fulks told the Salisbury Independent that Lengyel would try to find ways “which might allow some LPS employees to remain in Salisbury to provide technical support to our customers.”

However, Salisbury work was already scheduled to transfer to Denton, Texas, and a portion of it currently done in Salisbury would be transferred to Mexico.

Transition was scheduled to occur in phases beginning in May 2015 and continuing until December 2016, but it closed two months early.

Offering a brief history of Labinal, Fulks said in 1985, the Grumman Aerospace Corporation acquired a site in Salisbury to “house its electrical wiring production.”

“This wiring is used on aircraft for the U.S. Navy. In 1994, the American defense budget was reduced; some of the operations were taken over by Harvard Custom Manufacturing. In late 2010, Labinal Power Systems acquired HCM and it became a business unit under the North America Wiring and Services Division,” she explained.

The Salisbury plant produced electrical harnesses and electromechanical assemblies mainly for military programs and customers include Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Kongsberg, Lockheed Martin, Agusta, Bell Helicopter, General Dynamics, Sikorsky and L-3, she said.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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