Locknetics is closing this year. More than 100 people will be put out of work. That's the gist. I hate writing stories like this. I remember touring Locknetics a number of years ago, marveling at the cool stuff they made there. They seemed very cutting edge to me. I feel sick to think of all these good people facing unemployment. Since we at the Press faced possible closure a little more than a year ago, my memories of those days are all too clear and I think I know how they must be feeling. If you know someone who works there, tell them I am thinking of them. If they'd like to contact me, they can write to email@example.com or call me at 860-523-9632. So here's the story I wrote for Saturday's edition of The Bristol Press (www.bristolpress.com):
BRISTOL – Locknetics, a Bristol manufacturing company, is closing by the end of this year, putting 110 full-time employees out of work.
“It’s related to the fact that we are discontinuing the product lines that are made at that plant,” said Paul Dickard, a spokesman for Ingersoll Rand, Locknetics’ parent company. “They’re just not part of the product portfolio going forward.”
Locknetics makes electronic locks, primarily for commercial use, said Dickard, and the company will no longer be selling them.
“It’s terrible news,” said Mike Nicastro, president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. He said Locknetics is a chamber member, but that he only learned Friday about the closing.
The plant closing will be done in phases, said Dickard, starting this summer and finishing by the end of the year.
“There won’t be any jobs lost until July,” said Dickard. He said he didn’t know how it would transpire, but said employees would be notified.
Locknetics employees learned January 20 that the factory would close, said Dickard.
Factory workers will get outplacement career counseling, said Dickard, and if they stay as long as the company wants them, they’ll receive a severance package. Dickard would not discuss the severance package or the profitability of the Bristol factory.
Nicastro said the loss of Locknetics shows that the economic downturn isn’t finished. It could be connected to a drop in construction, he said.
It’s also possible that the plant fell victim to changing times, said Nicastro, adding that some security firms are using Bluetooth and other technology with locks.
“There’s new players out there,” said Nicastro, that are using new forms of locking and security devices different from what Locknetics offers. “They’re rendering some of what they do obsolete.”
While Dickard said the economy has something to do with the decision, Ingersoll Rand has been reviewing its holdings and the products it makes and sells, according to Dickard.
“It’s part of a larger strategy to reduce the number of plants we have in our portfolio,” said Dickard, who said the company has “too much manufacturing capacity.”
Ingersoll Rand, which acquired 60 manufacturing plants, including the one in Bristol, since 2000, has 90 factories worldwide, said Dickard.
In looking at its holdings and future plans, the company decided to eliminate some of them, according to Dickard.
“This was an unfortunate outcome of that analysis,” Dickard said. “This particular business is not part of that global strategy.”
Plants will close in Europe, Latin America and in the United States, according to Dickard. He said there may be more but wouldn’t say how many or where they are.
Ingersoll Rand acquired Locknetics in 2000 from the privately held Harrow Industries, said Dickard.
“Certainly at the time, it fit a niche for us,” said Dickard.
But over time, said Dickard, the Bristol factory and others became less efficient.