Husqvarna To Close Nebraska Mower Plant

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) -- Outdoor power equipment maker Husqvarna AB said Thursday that it plans to close its southeast Nebraska mower plant and move operations to Orangeburg, S.C., later this year.

The changes will eliminate 390 full- and part-time jobs at the Beatrice, Neb., plant. They are part of a larger reorganization that Husqvarna announced last fall.

The Swedish company says final assembly operations will end in Beatrice during the second half of 2010.

Husqvarna spokesman John Marchionda said the South Carolina plant is much larger than the Beatrice one and will be able to assemble the zero-turn mowers more efficiently. He said the Orangeburg plant has about 1,500 full-time and seasonal workers.

Husqvarna estimates that the plant closing will cost about $14 million (110 million kronor) this year, but the closing will gradually begin generating annual savings of about $5.1 million (40 million kronor) in 2011.

Husqvarna is one of the largest employers in Beatrice and has had some operations there since 1999.

Gage County Economic Development Director Terri Dageforde says the closing will be devastating to Beatrice.

"We will work hard with the state and city officials to turn this around," Dageforde said.

Mayor Dennis Schuster said he was shocked by Husqvarna's decision because the plant was running two shifts on most days, and the company had consolidated production of several brands to Beatrice.

"By all appearances, they seemed to be very sound and stable here," Schuster said.

The company's current 274,000-square-foot plant opened in 2005, but Husqvarna leases the plant.

Marchionda said some Beatrice employees might be offered transfers to other Husqvarna plants, but he didn't know how many.

Husqvarna produces lawn mowers, chain saws and powered garden equipment. According to its Web site, it employees 15,000 workers worldwide.

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