FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Evan N. Zeppos
(414) 276-6237 or (414) 491-6610
Milwaukee-based foundry makes positive progress toward restructuring goals
* * *
Economic uptick strengthens Grede plants in Wauwatosa and Reedsburg
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Grede Foundries, Inc. today announced that a stabilizing economy and cautious customer preparation for a rebound in the manufacturing and automotive industries have led to expanded work and increased employment at the company’s facilities in Wisconsin and nationwide. Grede Chairman Richard Koenings said that over the past two months, the company has gained new, multi-year contracts worth more than $23 million annually and has experienced an average 30 percent jump in employment at its U.S. plants.
The company is also a strong bidder on other contracts that have the potential to bring in millions of dollars of additional work, Koenings said.
“There’s been talk of the U.S. economy starting to prepare for economic recovery, and our experience at Grede seems to indicate some support for that,” Koenings said. “In addition to increasing orders from existing and new customers, we have been able to steadily expand employment. The goal of our recent right-sizing and restructuring efforts has been to position Grede for immediate profitability in what is expected to be a gradual turnaround as the U.S. emerges from its most tumultuous economic period in generations. The hikes we’ve seen in work and employment indicate Grede is on a solid, positive path.”
Since the automotive industry’s low point with the GM and Chrysler shutdowns in June, Grede has increased employment by 25 percent at its Reedsburg, Wis., foundry and by 100 percent at its St. Cloud, Minn., foundry, Koenings said. Both facilities produce castings for the automotive industry, which has seen some rebound tied to reduced inventory and linked to the “Cash for Clunkers” program. Koenings said foundry employment has also jumped by 15 percent at the company’s Liberty foundry in Wauwatosa, Wis. and at its Iron Mountain, Mich. facility; and by more than 20 percent in New Castle, Ind. The New Castle location supplies both the automotive and other industries, while Liberty and Iron Mountain supply construction, manufacturing, agriculture and other non-automotive industries.
Grede is in the process of shutting down a facility in Greenwood, S.C., and recently announced a four-to-six-month plan to phase out plants in Vassar, Mich., and Wichita, Kan., and the transfer of production from those operations into the company’s other locations. Koenings said he expects production at the Vassar and Wichita facilities to be robust during the transition as customers build inventory and adjust ordering patterns. Once all of the consolidations are complete in the spring of 2010, the company anticipates further increases in work and employment particularly at Liberty, which could see another 30 percent rise in employment, but also at Iron Mountain and New Castle, he said.
Koenings credited Grede’s employees, customers and business partners with helping to keep the company moving forward as it works through its reorganization plan.
“The hard work, commitment to quality and unmatched expertise of our national workforce has made a big, positive difference as we continue our initiatives to put our company on solid footing and restore it to immediate profitability,” Koenings said. “We also greatly appreciate the excellent cooperation we have had from our customers, vendors and lenders. Restructuring is a challenging process and, like so many companies in today’s marketplace, we have had to make hard decisions. But our ultimate goal is to serve our customers, preserve as many jobs as possible and, by being profitable and responsive, continue to do the quality work that has defined Grede Foundries for nearly 90 years in business.
“The increase in work, increase in jobs and increase in potential new contracts all indicate Grede is headed in the right direction,” he said.
About Grede Foundries, Inc.
Grede Foundries, Inc. was founded in 1920 by William J. Grede. The company specializes in ferrous metals: gray iron, ductile iron and specialty iron castings. Grede is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., and operates eight foundries in the United States serving the automotive, heavy truck, appliance and industrial markets. Foundry locations are Wauwatosa, Wis.; Reedsburg, Wis.; Vassar, Mich.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Iron Mountain/Kingsford, Mich.; New Castle, Ind.; Wichita, Kan.; and Greenwood, S.C.