The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

February 1, 2014

Norwich firm to close, lay off 120 workers

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Norwich Aero operations will shut down early next year, leaving 120 workers without jobs, officials said this week, and Commerce Chenango said that news about the publicly traded company was a shock to the local business community.

The parent Esterline Corp. is undergoing a restructuring, which was announced late in 2013, with plans to “make the corporation more agile and customer focused,” according to a media release from the Norwich manufacturer.

Esterline Advanced Senors will consolidate its manufacturing base and U.S. production, now conducted at Norwich Aero, will be moved to facilities in Tijuana, Mexico, the release said. Some administrative functions will be moved to a sister company in Buena Park, Calif.

The announcement Wednesday that Norwich Aero would close in early 2015, putting 120 employees out of work, was a shock, according to media release from Commerce Chenango, a nonprofit business advocacy organization.

“Commerce Chenango has reached out to state and federal partners to explore ways to lessen the impact on the local economy and to assist displaced workers to find new employment,” Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of Commerce Chenango, said in the release.

Workers at the 57,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Norwich produce quality products, with attention to detail and quick turn around time, and customer service that has resulted in ongoing expansion, the corporate website said. Norwich Aero maintains an AS9100 certified quality system that is recognized by leading aerospace companies, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Rolls Royce Corp., the site said. 

Though Esterline informed the investment community previously that a major restructuring was being planned, no indication was given until this week that the Chenango County plant was slated for closure, Commerce Chenango said.

“To say that this news comes as a surprise is an understatement, given the ongoing strong performance of the Norwich Aero plant,” Craig said.

“It’s extremely frustrating from an economic development perspective — Commerce Chenango works very hard to attract new employers to Chenango County and to help those already here to prosper and grow,” Craig said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, neither we nor our partners at the state level were even given a chance to keep these 120 good jobs from being exported to Mexico.”

Norwich Aero was founded 30 years ago to employ the highly skilled workforce that was left behind after Lewis Engineering consolidated its temperature sensor operations out-of-state, the Commerce Chenango release said.

Esterline, which has headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., operates manufacturing facilities in 13 U.S. states, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Morocco and the United Kingdom ranging in size from 40,000 to 500,000 square feet, the website said.

Esterline Advanced Sensors includes five operating units and a global network of service facilities, according to the corporation’s website. The manufacturer’s four product brands — Auxitrol, Norwich Aero, Weston and Esterline Mexico — reflect development and manufacture of sensors that cover the spectrum of aero-engine, aero-equipment and airframe applications.

Esterline Corp. is a leading worldwide supplier to the aerospace and defense industry, a Jan. 29 media release said, and Esterline has annual sales of about $2 billion and employs about 12,000 people worldwide. The release announced that its Esterline Advanced Sensors business platform had signed an agreement to partner on Rolls Royce aircraft engines. 

According to a New York Stock Exchange website, Esterline Technologies Corp., traded as ESL, closed Friday at $102.95. Esterline reported on its website that its 52-week high was $109.96 and the 52-week low was $62.61.