Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America to close

Saint-Gobain had looked for but failed to find a buyer of the Wichita Falls, Texas, facility. More than 700 jobs will be lost by the closure.

Saint-Gobain (Courbevoie, France) announced on March 3 that it is closing its Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America plant in Wichita Falls, Texas. The facility, which manufactures glass fiber reinforcements, will close in the third quarter of 2008, resulting in the loss of approximately 725 jobs. A progressive shutdown is planned, with layoffs beginning in June.

Saint-Gobain, the parent company of Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America, sold its other Reinforcements & Composites businesses to Owens Corning (Toledo, Ohio) in November 2007, but Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America was excluded from the sale for anti-trust considerations.

Saint-Gobain has been trying to find a buyer for the 330-acre plant since July 2006. However, despite many months of effort and negotiations with several prospective purchasers, the company has been unable to reach an economically viable agreement which would assure the future of the plant.

Olivier Duval, head of strategy for Saint-Gobain's High-Performance Materials Sector, said, "It was Saint-Gobain's sincere hope to find a buyer who would keep the plant open as a going concern. We are very disappointed that many months of effort have not resulted in a happier outcome for Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America and its employees. As Saint-Gobain is no longer in the reinforcements and composites business, it is not economically feasible for us to keep the plant running as a stand-alone operation within our group.”

Ron Lane, president of Saint-Gobain Vetrotex America, said, "Saint-Gobain's decision is not a reflection on the hard work and commitment of our employees in Wichita Falls. Saint-Gobain is fortunate to have had such an experienced and dedicated workforce and we appreciate their great contribution to the company over many years. We will be providing as much assistance as we can to help them find alternative employment. In addition to severance pay, employees will receive training for job searches and interviewing.”

Customers are being individually informed of the situation. Full assistance will be provided to help them transition to new suppliers over the coming months.