Illinois manufacturer of iron castings closing its doors

Friday, August 15, 2003

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- Excelsior Foundry Co., a manufacturer of iron castings that has been in business for 111 years, is closing its doors, according to a company official.

About 50 workers will lose their jobs, company president Frank Rogers said. Wednesday was the last day at work for 25 of them.

The last day workers poured iron for castings also was Wednesday.

By the end of the month, all castings should be finished, and then equipment will be liquidated and patterns used to make castings will be returned to customers.

The combination of a weak economy, rising medical insurance and workers' compensation costs, foreign competition, and changes in the industry forced the closing, Rogers said.

"Closing Excelsior is the hardest decision I've ever had to make," he said. "My daughter said it's kind of like losing a parent."

Excelsior manufactured iron castings for customers including manufacturers of electric generators, agricultural and construction equipment, machine tools and specialized machinery. The company has produced castings ranging in size from one ounce to two tons.

"A lot of things just don't use castings anymore that once did," Rogers said. "People always said there will always be a need for foundries that do short-run work. Well, obviously there's not enough of a need."

Rogers said in terms of weight of product shipped, the company's sales have fallen about 70 percent in the past five years. Rogers also said some of his company's customers have been reluctant to agree to price increases to help the company.

Jeff Melton, the lead union committeeman, said employees were told about the closing on Monday. He said the announcement did not come as a shock.

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