*NEWS*K-MINOLTA PLANT PREPARING FOR END

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*NEWS*K-MINOLTA PLANT PREPARING FOR END

 user 2007-01-22 at 12:55:00 pm Views: 56
  • #17159

    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.”