Parker to Close Gear Pump Plant, Idling 137

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The last vestiges of what was Commercial Intertech, a homegrown manufacturer founded in 1920, will be reduced to just 22 R&D employees in the next 18 months as Parker Hannifin phases out operations at its gear pump plant at 2701 Intertech Drive.

Parker Hannifin, the Cleveland company that acquired Commercial Intertech’s 27 plants and 4,000-person payroll in 2000 for $366 million, says it “proposed” the plant shutdown Wednesday to 107 members of the United Steelworkers Union. Under the terms of the labor contract with Local 2332, “We have to share our proposal with the union and discuss anything relevant to that issue that they want to bring up,” explains spokesman Aidan Gormley.

But were the union to subsequently propose wage cutbacks, it likely would not change the final outcome, adds Gormley, Parker’s director of global communications.

“For us, it’s difficult to see any other economically viable alternative. The union has the opportunity to propose something,” he says. “We’re open to having discussions but it would be difficult for us to see any way they could come up with a relevant alternative that would allow this plant to stay open.”

The Youngstown plant makes hydraulic gear parts used in heavy equipment for agriculture, oil and gas drilling and other industrial applications. The decision to end operations results from market weakness as well as intense global competition, the company says.

The Youngstown plant employs 137 salaried and hourly workers. It’s part of Parker’s two-plant Gear Pump Division that also includes a manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain, N. C., “where some of the work from the Youngstown facility will go,” Gormley says. The North Carolina plant employs 179 hourly workers and 49 year salaried workers. Parker acquired both plants through its purchase of Commercial Intertech.

Once the plant closes, Parker’s presence in the city will be its 22-person research and development operation inside Commercial Intertech’s former headquarters at 1775 Logan Ave, a multi-story building that once bustled with office workers, executives and managers.

On Tuesday Parker’s management team held an investor meeting in New York to announce how the company will “achieve new financial and operational performance targets designed to reward Parker shareholders,” said CEO Tom Williams.

The company said it has established “new financial goals that include a target to reach 17% segment operating income margin and 17% return on invested capital in five years.”

Parker reports annual sales of $13 billion in fiscal 2015. The company employs 55,000 in 50 countries.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.