Another Fort Smith Manufacturer May Fall Victim To Whirlpool Closure

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 81 views 

Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, reports that a rubber sealer manufacturer whose main vendor was Whirlpool may be shuttering its facility.

From The City Wire:

The more than 40 jobs at ILPEA in Fort Smith could soon represent additional fallout from the closure of Whirlpool’s Fort Smith refrigerator manufacturing plant.

ILPEA, which makes gaskets and other rubber sealers, has operated in Fort Smith under various owners since 1967. The company’s primary customer is Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool Corp.

Whirlpool announced Oct. 27, 2011, it would close the large Fort Smith plant that produces refrigerators and has also produced ice-makers and trash compactors. The Whirlpool closure will result in the loss of 917 jobs. However, Whirlpool’s Fort Smith plant employed more than 4,500 in early 2006.

Whirlpool announced April 27 that it will close

its Fort Smith doors on June 29.

Stuart O’Neal, president of Local United Steel Workers 496, said ILPEA officials notified the workers on Monday of plans to close the operation. O’Neal said 34 hourly jobs will be lost and possibly seven salaried jobs lost if the plant closes.

“They said they would start the plant closing on July 13. … We should be finished Oct. 1, of 2012,” O’Neal told The City Wire.

If the plant does close in October, it will join Fortis Plastics, Huntington Foam, Southern Steel & Wire and other Whirlpool vendors who have closed Fort Smith operations.

Union officials are putting together a package of wage and benefit concessions in hopes of saving the plant and its jobs. You can read more at this link.