Today (Oct. 16), is slated to be the last day of operations for the remaining 43 employees of Shawnee Tubing Industries after the company announced last week it would be ending all operations. The plant sits on the north end of Shawnee, at 41600 Wolverine Road.

Today (Oct. 16), is slated to be the last day of operations for the remaining 43 employees of Shawnee Tubing Industries after the company announced last week it would be ending all operations. The plant sits on the north end of Shawnee, at 41600 Wolverine Road.

There is hope on the horizon, however, as one of Shawnee's largest employers — Georg Fischer Central Plastics LLC (GFCP) — has stepped up, encouraging displaced STI employees to apply at its stable and growing company.

“While we are saddened by the news of Shawnee Tubing's closing for the displaced workers and for the community in general, we are happy to be able to offer those workers the opportunity to apply for an opening here with us at GFCP to continue their career locally,” Dani Shields, GFCP human resources director, said.

Due to GFCP's growth and success, she said there is a need for all types of positions, from production to lab, to customer service, to shipping and logistics — with several positions on off shifts.

“We have already had many employees from there reach out to us and (we) have extended offers to several, with even more pending,” she said.

STI closure

The decision to close the tubing plant was unexpected by many — and was due to unforeseen changes in the copper business, a press release from the company's attorney, Ed Maguire, issued late Friday afternoon, states.

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.

Counselors and agencies are gearing up to assist employees this week, offering outplacement services, such as helping with resumes and job transition skills, Maguire said.

“If I can get these people placed (in a new job) by (this) 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 last week.

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 immediate concerns are focused on helping those who have been affected by the closing — 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.