Mercer Forge to Close Mercer, Wheatland Plants

MERCER, Pa. – The parent company of Mercer Forge Corp. has notified more than 100 of its employees that a pending sale of the plant will likely lead to permanent layoffs.

According to a Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act notice dated Aug. 10, Wisconsin-based Neenah Foundry Co. expects to terminate 116 hourly and salaried employees at Mercer Forge “immediately before the closing date” of Neenah’s sale to Milwaukee Forge. The sale is expected to close sometime in August, the notice said.

The WARN Act said that Milwaukee Forge would then offer employment “to as many Mercer Forge employees as it needs,” but did not identify a specific number.

The layoffs would impact 81 members of United Steel Workers Local 5306 and 34 salaried employees. The first layoffs are to begin in mid-August, according to the notice.

According to documents, the layoffs would extend to Mercer Forge’s plant at 200 Brown St. and its offices at 315 South Erie St.

Jo LeMoine, vice president of human resources at Neenah Enterprises Inc. said in a cover letter addressed to Borough Mayor Ross Vernon that as a result of the sale, Milwaukee Forge “will be assessing the current operations at Mercer Forge, including their future workforce needs” and that “certain employees will be laid off.”

It is unclear how many jobs would be affected at Mercer Forge’s second plant in Wheatland, Pa. A borough official said he has not had a chance to examine a WARN notice sent yesterday and could not comment.

Calls to both Neenah Foundry and Milwaukee Forge were not returned.

Neenah was established in 1872. Milwaukee Forge was founded in 1913. Mercer Forge produces micro-alloy forgings that are used in heavy and light trucks, agricultural equipment, construction equipment, the oil and gas industry, military applications, and in railroad equipment, according to Neenah’s website. The plant has operated for more than 40 years in Mercer.

“Some of our residents have worked there all their lives. The loss of jobs will have an impact,” said Debbie Sarvis, borough administrator. “We’re not quite sure what they have planned there.”

Still, there is likely to be a ripple effect across the small community because of the layoffs, Sarvis noted, much like when the landmark Reznor plant closed in 2019.

That plant, at the time owned by Nortek Global HVAC LLC, dated to the late 19th century and once produced the Reznor heater. The plant closure resulted in the loss of 110 jobs.

Image: USW Local 5306 Facebook page.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.