HUNTINGTON Ind. (WANE) United Technologies Electronic Controls, Huntington’s largest employer, announced Wednesday it plans to move its manufacturing department to a new facility in Monterrey, Mexico, a departure that will cost the area 700 jobs.
UTEC said in a release Tuesday, though, that there won’t be an immediate impact on jobs.
A global manufacturer of microprocessor-based controls for the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry, UTEC said it will relocate its manufacturing activities to Mexico over the next two years. The company’s headquarters, engineering and product marketing organizations will remain in the Huntington area.
The move is subject to discussions with local union representatives. NewsChannel 15 tried reaching the union leader for IBEW 983, but our calls have not been returned.
Alex Housten, UTEC’s managing director, told NewsChannel 15 that relocating to Mexico will put its manufacturing division closer to its key customers.
“This plan is intended to address the challenges we continue to face in a rapidly changing industry, with a continued and steady migration of our OEM customers and competitors to Northern Mexico,” said Housten. “The proximity of our operations to our customers is key to remaining competitive. It enables better responsiveness and flexibility to meet their changing needs.
Housten said that while the plan includes no immediate impact on jobs because the relocation would unfold in phases, the company will work with employees and the union to manage the transition.
“We are aware of the effect on our employees and the community, making this a difficult decision,” said Housten. “But after a thorough evaluation of our manufacturing operations, we determined the relocation is the best way for us to remain competitive, meet the needs of our customers and protect the business for the long-term.”
Housten said UTEC will offer certain separation benefits including continued access to the its Employee Scholar Program for a period of time to eligible employees. Under that program, employees may receive tuition, books and fees at accredited institutions of higher education for up to four years.
The organization will continue to focus on meeting its customer commitments throughout the transition, Housten said.
NewsChannel 15 tried reaching out to UTEC employees Wednesday afternoon. Some employees we talked to said they have worked at UTEC for 20 or more years and thought they would retire from the company. They fear finding another electrical job could be difficult after BAE in Fort Wayne announced its also planning on cutting jobs in the near future.
For many employees it’s an old story playing out again. UTEC employees told NewsChannel 15 that many people joined the company when RCA in Marion closed about 10 years ago, cutting hundreds of jobs.
The announcement comes the same day that Carrier Corp. announced it, too, was shuttering its Indianapolis plant where workers make heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment and moving that manufacturing to Mexico, a plan that will lay off 1,400 workers. Both Carrier Corp. and UTEC are units of United Technologies Corp., which is based in Hartford, Connecticut.