Shawnee Tubing Industries has just announced the permanent, and unforeseen, closure of all operations. The plant sits on the north end of Shawnee, at 41600 Wolverine Road. Nine employees reportedly were laid off Thursday, with the remaining 43 set to end their careers at the plant Wednesday.

Shawnee Tubing Industries has just announced the unforeseen closure of all operations. The plant sits on the north end of Shawnee, at 41600 Wolverine Road.

“This decision was unexpected by many — and due to the unforeseen changes in our business,” a press release from the company's attorney, Ed Maguire, issued late Friday afternoon, states. “We value and appreciate all for their hard work.”

Nine employees were laid off Thursday.

The last day of work for its remaining 43 employees is expected to be Wednesday (Oct. 16).

“Thank you to Shawnee, Pottawatomie County, the State of Oklahoma and especially our employees for their many years of valued service,” the release reads.

Maguire said he has been reaching out to various businesses and agencies to help the tubing company's recently displaced and soon-to-be displaced workers. More will be reported on that as details are confirmed.

In the meantime, counselors and agencies are gearing up to assist employees next week, offering outplacement services, such as helping with resumes and job transition skills.

“If I can get these people placed (in a new job) by next week, that's my goal,” Maguire said.

“The company is hoping to set something up the 17th (Thursday) either onsite or at a nearby location,” Maguire said Friday.

The plant provided copper tubing for the industrial, technical, HVAC and refrigeration markets.

Shawnee Tubing had an opportunity for investment that fell through, he said.

“The copper market is gone,” he said. “There's just nothing that can be done; it is what it is.”

Shawnee's Economic Development Director Tim Burg said the decision to shutter the Shawnee Tubing Facility comes as a surprise to many in the community.

“We knew they were making positive strides in building a larger and more diverse client list, along with an ability to increase the number of the products produced locally,” he said.

Immediate concerns are focused on helping those who have been affected by the closing, Burg said, by assisting them in finding other employment opportunities in the community.

“Our low unemployment rate should make it easier for the affected employees who wish to find other work in Shawnee, to do so,” he added.

While there are a lot of details with all of this to still be worked out, Burg said the city is still communicating with the local leaders of the facility and offering assistance where it can.

“It is certainly a sad day for the dedicated employees who were part of a growing turnaround process — and of course for Shawnee,” Burg said.

Background

In May 2017 Wolverine Tube — as it was known then — changed ownership, acquired by a newly formed company called Shawnee Tubing Solutions LLC (STS).

Wolverine had operated for more than 40 years here, manufacturing copper tube products used in both commercial and residential applications.

The local business community, along with a group of local and regional lenders, partnered with Wolverine's general manager Greg Gallman to keep the company in Shawnee.

Led by Gallman, as STS president, the company continued to manufacture industrial copper tube from the facility.

Phasing out technical tube production, but sticking to the industrial market, the company of 500-plus employees experienced some down-sizing during the transition to become STS. In multiple waves, over several months, the plant cut back 10 to 20 positions at a time — ultimately shedding nearly a third of its workforce.

In July 2018 the plant was acquired by American Industrial Acquisition Corporation (AIAC), a privately held industrial investment portfolio.

The name changed to Shawnee Tubing Industries, LLC, (STI). As of August, 2018, the company had reported 175 employees on its roster. There have been layoffs since that time.

Watch for updates.