Truck and Engine Corp. announced March 28 it would close its Chatham,
Ontario, assembly plant on July 18, 2003. The company told employees
the heavy-truck plant's closure was a necessary step to address
competitive market conditions.
"We understand that this is not an easy time for anyone affected
by this announcement," said Steve Keate, president of the company's
truck group. "Even though we've been talking about this with employees
for months, we realize that announcing a date signals the finality
of closure. We sincerely thank our Chatham employees for their years
of dedicated service of building quality trucks."
Keate said the action, along with others, better positions International
to profitably serve its heavy truck customers and contributes to
the company's goal of profitability over the business cycle.
"The decision to close the plant was never about the superior service
our Chatham employees provide or the high quality trucks they assemble,"
Keate said. "Everyone knows that our Chatham employees build high
quality trucks. The main issue has always been about cost and returning
our heavy truck business to profitability."
The Chatham plant is currently operating on one shift with approximately
900 employees. In addition to active employees, there are approximately
1,300 union employees on layoff status.
Production of International 9000i Series Class 8 trucks will be
transitioned from Chatham to the company's Escobedo, Mexico, assembly
plant. The Escobedo plant, launched in 1998, features the latest
assembly technology and has a strong track record, the company said.
"We are confident that the Escobedo facility will continue to meet
the standard of quality that our International products are known
for and that our customers expect," Keate said.