- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) - A company that was once one of St. Joseph’s largest employers is closing most of its manufacturing operations and will eliminate all but 14 jobs.

WireCo WorldGroup President and CEO Chris Ayers announced Thursday that it is eliminating 49 jobs and winding down a wire rope manufacturing operation that once employed 1,500 people in St. Joseph and has been in the city for nearly 70 years, The St. Joseph News-Press reported (https://bit.ly/1LgGHh2 ).

“We will be closing the facility over the next 12 months,” Ayers said in the investor call. “While we hate to make a decision that affects our employees in that way, it was time to consolidate.”

The 14 remaining employees work at a fabricated products division in downtown St. Joseph, Ayers said.

Once known as Wire Rope Corporation of America, the company moved to St. Joseph from New Haven, Connecticut, in 1948. The company flourished until the 1980s, when increased competition began to take a toll. After union strike in 1999, it lost $26 million in 2001 and filed for bankruptcy protection the next year.

The company emerged from bankruptcy with a new name - WireCo WorldGroup and new private equity ownership. It moved its corporate headquarters to Kansas City but continued production operations in St. Joseph, Chillicothe and Sedalia. It also expanded and now operates 24 manufacturing facilities in eight countries. The company’s current headquarters is in Prairie Village, Kansas.

WireCo has been hurt by falling oil prices in recent years and net sales plummeted $172 million in 2015 while adjusted earnings dropped 18 percent. Ayers announced $18.3 million in expense reductions last year. The company’s wire rope products are used in energy exploration, bridge construction, industrial fishing, mining and other industries.

The company said the closing in St. Joseph facility will not impact operations at its other Missouri sites.

Also Thursday, Hillyard Industries of St. Joseph said it planned to buy about 25 acres of WireCo’s downtown property and redevelop it into a new manufacturing and national distribution center. Hillyard makes cleaning and hygiene products.


Information from: St. Joseph News-Press/St. Joe, Missouri, https://www.newspressnow.com

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