KETTERING, Ohio (AP) — Automotive parts producer Tenneco Inc. has announced plans to close a plant in southwest Ohio that employs nearly 650 people.
The facility in Kettering, a suburb of Dayton, that makes shock absorbers is expected to close before the end of 2023, said the Lake Forest, Illinois-based company said in a statement Thursday.
Spokesperson Steve Blow said higher steel prices and oversaturation in the market for shock absorbers were among the economic factors driving the decision.
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was among those expressing disappointment Thursday. He said the state was reaching out to Tenneco executives.
“JobsOhio and its partners are working to engage with Tenneco to explore solutions on how the company can succeed in Kettering,” DeWine said in a statement.
Blow told The Dayton Daily News that city and state economic incentives or overtures will not be able to prevent the closure, because the market competitiveness issues are national, not local.
“It’s not a sustainable business case, no,” Blow said. “It’s a difficult situation but, unfortunately, in the end, looking at it at every possible angle, it doesn’t look like a business case that can be supported.”
The Kettering facility, which Tenneco purchased from the bankrupt Delphi Corp. in 2008, employs 648 people, including some 450 unionized IUE-CWA workers who were in the middle of contract negotiations.
“It’s kind of like a flashback, almost,” said Tyra Williams, an employee who worked for both companies, referring to the Delphi bankruptcy.
In a statement, the union said Tenneco has invested more than $70 million in the Kettering facility in recent years and received about $11 million in taxpayer subsidies, including over $2 million from the state of Ohio.
“On Veterans Day, we should be honoring those who have served, but instead, Tenneco is betraying veterans, workers and our community by offshoring jobs,” IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew said. “Our workforce is highly skilled and well-trained, and they have helped make this company a success.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, DeWine’s Democratic rival in next year’s governor’s race, joined U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a candidate for U.S. Senate, outside the plant Thursday.
Blow said Tenneco plans to provide transition assistance for affected employees, including some opportunities to transfer to other Tenneco locations. The company and the union will bargain on those topics in the coming weeks, he said.