Come July 27, 17 employees in Opp will be without a job after Thursday's announcement that the Ariens Company would close its manufacturing operation in the city.
The company has operated the facility since 2006 when it acquired Locke Turf Co., a manufacturer of reel mowers and specialty turf equipment. It is located on the Kinston highway, and in Opp, personnel were tasked with manufacturing snow-blowing equipment, Opp Mayor John Bartholomew said.
Corporate officials said the closure was done. in an effort to consolidate manufacturing operations for improved efficiency. Production will run through July 26.
"This decision is not a reflection on the performance of the plant," said Bob Bradford, senior vice president of operations. "I'd like to thank the employees for the remarkable improvements they made on their lean journey of continuous improvement which began the day we acquired the plant seven years ago. They would be an asset to any of our other manufacturing facilities and we have offered them the option to transfer."
Employees were provided with severance packages and outplacement assistance during a meeting held at the plant. Production will be moved to Ariens' manufacturing plants in Brillion, Wis., or Auburn, Neb. Customers should not see an impact on product delivery, according to Bradford.
Bartholomew said the closure news was "bitter sweet."
"I did know about it; we were prepared for it," he said. "But I can say we do have another manufacturing company that is looking at the building. I have spoken with them, and if their contract comes through, they would hire the laid off personnel."