Feedback: Airbrake May Add 50 Jobs In Watertown
New York Airbrake may add as many as 50 jobs to its Watertown facility, as it closes a plant in KIngston, Ontario.
The company announced the closing of the Knorr Brake Limited facility in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"The KBL (Kingston) facility produces New York Air Brake’s locomotive braking products. Production is planned to be moved to the Company’s Watertown, NY facility, potentially adding 50 production jobs. The move is in direct response to NYAB’s initiative to improve total cost structure and align its manufacturing facilities for better business unit focus," according to the release.
In recent weeks, Airbrake officials in Watertown have said they want to extend a tax deal they have with the city, the city school district and the county, and hinted there might be an expansion in the works.
The company will start shutting down the Kingston plant in the fall, and finish closing early next year.
59 hourly and 27 salaried workers are currently employed at the KIngston plant, which opened in the mid-1980s.
“If we find the right folks that have the right skills that want to come across the border, then we would support that. (But) It's unlikely we'll be able to bring hourly folks from Kingston across the border given the challenges we face," said Michael Hawthorne, New York Air Brake President.
Hawthorne said the Airbrake is competing for business globally and is under pressure to reduce costs. In addition, he said Airbrake's Watertown facility is the sole location for the design, testing, and manufacture of "heavy haul freight products."
As you can imagine, just the possibility of Watertown adding jobs has city officials excited - even if they don't know the specifics yet.
"I've been very impressed that the new president, Mr. Hawthorne, seems committed to the north country, which is where he's from, and wants to make this plant viable," said Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham.
The entire press release from the company
Watertown, NY – February 27, 2013 – New York Air Brake LLC (NYAB), a global manufacturer of innovative train control systems for the railroad industry, today announced a realignment strategy to its North American manufacturing operations that includes the closure of its Knorr Brake Limited (KBL) facility in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
In order to minimize disruption to our customers, the phased transition will begin in 3Q13 and operations are expected to cease at KBL by early 2014. The KBL facility produces New York Air Brake’s locomotive braking products. Production is planned to be moved to the Company’s Watertown, NY facility, potentially adding 50 production jobs. The move is in direct response to NYAB’s initiative to improve total cost structure and align its manufacturing facilities for better business unit focus.
“This was a very difficult business decision, taken only after careful evaluation and consideration, especially for those impacted by the Kingston facility’s closing,” said Michael Hawthorne, New York Air Brake President. “Despite significant productivity gains resulting from the dedication and hard work of our KBL employees and capital improvements made at the Kingston plant over the last several years, two significant factors contributed to this closure action. First is the globalization of the Company’s business, which places greater pressure to reduce costs to a level that allows NYAB to compete effectively in the worldwide marketplace. Second is the strategic direction New York Air Brake has established across the organization to align its factories with its product lines and services to achieve planned productivity, flexibility, and efficiency improvements necessary in Watertown if we are going to be successful long term.”
Hawthorne additionally noted that NYAB’s Watertown facility is the sole location for the design, testing, and manufacture of heavy haul freight products. Shifting production of locomotive products to this facility is a natural step to consolidate all OEM manufacturing under one roof.
The Kingston facility – which opened in the mid-1980s – currently employs approximately 86 individuals, including 59 hourly and 27 salaried employees.
“We are committed to making every effort to ensure that the needs of the affected employees will be met. To that end, we have enlisted the aid of outplacement and governmental agencies that will assist those impacted in securing alternate employment opportunities,” said Hawthorne.
About New York Air Brake LLC
New York Air Brake LLC, a member of the Knorr-Bremse Group, has been serving the rail industry since 1890. Through the years, the Company’s basic philosophy has reflected a deep respect for the customer, and a commitment to providing quality products at a cost-effective price. An industry pioneer, employing more than 800 people, the Company is driven to deliver solutions for improved rail performance, safety and overall operating cost. New York Air Brake is headquartered in Watertown, NY, with manufacturing plants in Riverside, MO; West Chicago, IL; China Grove, NC and TDS, a technology development unit located in Irving, TX. For more information, visit www.nyab.com.