ALMONT TWP. — Just when some hoped we had turned the corner on bad times, there is further evidence of the toll the slumping economy is taking on Michigan businesses and workers.
This time the affected business and many of its employees are based in the Tri-City area.
John Brodowsky, owner of Wellington-Almont L.L.C., has announced the closing of the company's Almont facility at 3776 Van Dyke, effective March 15, 2009.
When the Wellington-Almont plant on M-53 closes its doors on March 15, more than 100 of the company’s former employees will be out of work. Almont village and township officials fear economic consequences for other local businesses. photo by Tom Wearing.
Brodowsky noted in a letter dated Jan. 9, 2009, that the closing of the metal stamping and assembly facility is permanent and will result in the loss of 108 jobs. He gave no reason for the closing in the letter.
A spokesperson in Wellington's Human Services Department on Friday indicated that no additional information would be released to the press.
Because the Almont plant was heavily reliant on making and selling parts to the automotive industry, it is believed the decline in auto sales factored into the closure.
"With the way cars are selling, they were probably not doing the sales volume they were three or four years ago," said Almont Township Supervisor Paul Bowman. "It's definitely going to hurt our local communities. Those 108 people bought gas, went to lunch and did some of their shopping here."
Bowman said the 160,000-square-foot building and property are still owned by James T. Ligon, Jr., the former CEO of Ligon Brothers Manufacturing, which was founded in 1976.
Bowman added that the township will lose personal property taxes previously paid on equipment owned by Wellington. He expects the equipment will be moved to its main plant in Belleville. Wellington Industries moved into the Almont facility in September 2005, about the same time U.S. Farathane of Sterling Heights opened a plastics operation adjacent to the stamping facility. Bowman said U.S. Farathane has given no indication of closing its doors.
Almont Village Manager Gerald Oakes agreed the plant closure will have an impact on local businesses that have benefited from their patronage.
"This will hurt everybody," said Oakes. "I'm pretty sure you'll see fewer people at some of our restaurants at lunchtime."