He said the plant had lost about 80 percent of its business recently and blamed the loss on the continuing rise of diesel fuel as well as the slow down of housing construction around the country.
Offering a slight hope for the employees who will face unemployment by the middle of August, he said there was a possibility of the plant being sold to one of its larger competitors. “Unfortunately, we’re (competitors) are all in the same boat,” he told The Cadiz Record minutes after making the official announcement. “We’re going to idle the plant.”
Currently the plant employees 78 with an hourly wage average of between $15 and $17 per hour. The company hires skilled aluminum welders who Holland said should be an attractive asset to any possible buyers.
The meeting Friday was to meet federal guidelines in giving a 60-day Warn Notice that the plant was closing. 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. “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 aluminum trailers along 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.”
Steve Allen, chairman of the Cadiz-Trigg County EDC said in an email that “The Cadiz-Trigg County EDC is saddened that Benson International finds their self in this situation. We know that Benson is a strong, well managed company and that the decision to close is only due to the recession that the trailer industry is in and it appears this recession has no definite end in sight.”
Read more on Benson's closure in this week's Cadiz Record.