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A.O. Smith Shutting Down Kentucky Plant

Company closing factory which makes motors and parts for heating and air conditioning units and moving operations to Mexico.

SCOTTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A.O. Smith Corp. said it will close its factory in this southern Kentucky town and move operations to Mexico, eventually putting more than 200 people out of work.
The plant, which makes motors and parts for heating and air conditioning units, was acquired by A.O. Smith in 1998. It originally was a General Electric plant, which opened in 1974.
A.O. Smith made the announcement after releasing its earnings Tuesday. The company said it will transfer the production to Mexico at the end of next year because of a weaker-than-expected housing market.
Mark A. Petrarca, a senior vice president for the company, said the announcement was made early so employees can start planning. He said severance packages would be offered.
''This was an extremely difficult decision to make given the long history of the Scottsville plant and the dedication of our employees,'' said Christopher L. Mapes, president of the company's electrical products division. ''However, the need to aggressively manage costs and address the challenging overcapacity issues we face necessitated this decision.''
Scottsville Mayor Robert Cline said the plant closing would have a significant impact.
''We have several families where the husband and wife both work at that same plant,'' he said.
Allen County Judge-Executive Bobby Young said the plant once had up to 1,200 employees, but steadily cut back production over the years to its current work force of 225.
The company also said it will close its commercial compressor motor operation in Mebane, N.C.
The transfer of work at those facilities will begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2008.
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