Citing the devastating rise in diesel fuel and the impact it has had on the trucking industry, Holland said sales of the specialized aluminum trailers produced at the plant had dropped over 80 percent.
Currently the plant employees 78 with an hourly wage average of between $15 and $17 per hour. The company hires highly skilled aluminum welders which Holland said should be an attractive asset to any possible buyers.
At the announcement Friday, Holland said he company issued the required 60 day Warn Notice of the pending closure. He also told employees that each one of them would receive full pay and benefits even if they were laid off work prior to the 60 day timetable.
“My main concern right now is to keep these jobs in Trigg County,” Holland said shortly after the announcement. “Our employees haven’t messed up. Our management hasn’t messed up. We’re just in a severe downturn of the economy right now.”
He said prospects for finding a buyer for the plant might be pretty good considering the economic state of the country. Holland said Benson was about the third largest producer of the trailers it produces with several others “much larger than us.”
“Several of Bensons competitors have idled plants during this period,” said Corporate Human Resources Manager John Earle. “Large truck manufacturers such as Kenworth, Mack and others are seeing the same effects. Freightliner just announced the layoff of nearly 3,000 employees due to this depression in the industry. The announcement by General Motors that they are closing four more assembly plants is another hit to steel haulers that transport steel on heavy versions of platform trailers.”
(Full details on the Benson closing can be found in the June 11 edition of The Cadiz Record.)