A John Deere parts distribution center in DeWitt is closing, ending the jobs of 25 employees and the equipment manufacturer’s century-old link to the Syracuse area.
The parts depot is scheduled to officially close March 31. But it is already closed to business, according to an employee who answered the phone at the company, but would not identify himself. “All the parts are gone out of here already,” the employee said.
John Deere is transferring the Syracuse depot’s workload to a regional distribution center in Grimsby, Ontario, company spokesman Ken Golden wrote in an e-mail. Golden said Deere has consolidated distribution depots in recent years, with facilities like Syracuse’s being absorbed into larger operations “that are more capable of providing rapid service to dealers and customers.”
Golden said the closure was meant to improve the efficiency of John Deere’s distribution process, and was “not directly tied to a tough economy.”
Employees declined to comment. Employees were told in October that the business would be shut down, according to Sue Damanski, 55, who retired from the distribution center five years ago after working there for 30 years.
For almost a century, John Deere’s warehouse in Syracuse shipped replacement parts to farms and stores throughout the Northeast, Damanski said.
The John Deere company first arrived in the city in 1912, when it opened a distribution center in a warehouse on Wyoming and Marcellus streets. John Deere moved to its current building on Deere Road in 1955.
Damanski, a Chittenango resident, started working at John Deere in 1975. Her mother, who worked in the business offices at the depot until the offices closed in 1987, got her the job. Damanski met her future husband there and organized the company’s Christmas party for 20 years.
She said that while she was with John Deere, there were always concerns that the Syracuse depot might close, especially after the company cut around 100 office jobs from the depot and moved them to Ohio. “It always hung over our heads that it could close,” Damanski said.
When Damanski left the company five years ago, there were around 70 employees, many of them college students, she said.
Damanski, who keeps in touch with friends at the distribution center, said that of the 25 Syracuse employees, two have made plans to transfer to a facility in Atlanta, Ga., some are planning to retire, and others are looking for jobs.
“I just think it’s sad that another medium-sized company that’s been around for decades in the Syracuse area, that’s had a big mark on Syracuse as far as the economy, is now leaving for good,” Damanski said