K-MINOLTA’s PLANT PREPARING FOR THE END

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K-MINOLTA’s PLANT PREPARING FOR THE END

 user 2007-01-22 at 12:55:00 pm Views: 42
  • #16866

    Konica plant preparing for the end
    Konica Minolta is ending production of photographic paper at its Whitsett plant by the end of the month, but there’s hope that another company could buy the plant.That would save about 60 of the 260 jobs that are being lost with the plant’s closure, said Bob Harris, the president of Konica Minolta Manufacturing USA . He couldn’t give any more information but said any new operation would be much smaller.Konica Minolta announced a year ago that it will close its plant because digital photography has reduced sales of its photo paper. Last week, 100 employees worked their final shifts with the company. By the end of January, the current work force of 120 will be cut to about 50, who will fill orders and do administrative work until sometime in April.Local economic developers and real estate agents say the building’s prominent site on Interstate 40/85 should make it easy to sell. County tax records set the value of the Whitsett site and building at $18.5 million in 2005.The workers being laid off will stand a good chance of landing new jobs, Harris said, because they are familiar with advanced computerized manufacturing processes.”It’s a pretty complex manufacturing process,” Harris said.All employees will receive health care benefits through June, Harris said, and four weeks’ pay, plus two weeks for every year on the job. A 15-year employee would be eligible for 34 weeks of pay. The workers will also get two days of outplacement help with writing resumes and interviewing for jobs.Harris said earlier that consumers are only printing one-third of the photographs they did before the digital camera era. In addition, many print at home, which has decreased the sale of the color photographic paper that Konica Minolta makes here.Konica opened the 350,000-square-foot plant in 1989. At the time, it bought enough land for growth, expecting its market to expand. During the past several years, the company has produced about 1 billion square feet of color paper a year — enough to turn out 7 billion 4- by-6-inch photos.Harris has worked in the imaging business for 27 years, 16 of those at Konica Minolta. But his executive status won’t give him any advantage when the factory doors close, he said Monday. That’s because the company doesn’t reassign its American executives when it closes operations here.”Unfortunately, although I’m president, I’m just like all the other employees,” he said. “Once this is all completed I’m just like anybody else. I’ll be looking for a job.”