Vitro Automotriz, S.A. de C.V. (Vitro) has announced the company is closing one of its production lines in Meadville, Pa., where more than 100 positions will be impacted by the closing. According to Vitro, the economy, COVID-19 and a need to rebuild the line were the result of the closure.
Vitro Automotive (Vitro) recently announced it will close one of its raw-glass production lines at its Meadville, Pa., plant effective June 10, 2020, which will affect 108 positions.
“The ongoing downturn in the U.S. automotive marketplace – worsened by the economic impacts related to the global coronavirus outbreak – necessitated the decision,” said a company statement.
Vitro’s Meadville facility will continue operations on its Line 1, which primarily supplies feedstock for its downstream automotive-glass finishing plants in the United States. The Pennsylvania plant’s Line 2 is nearing the end of its productive life, according to the company, and would require a projected $40 million rebuild. Float-glass production lines require reinvestments and rebuilds approximately every decade, given normal wear and required technical upgrades, according to Vitro. Its Meadville Line 2 was last rebuilt in 2009, and both lines were operating at about 60% capacity prior to what the company notes as lingering challenges in the U.S. automotive markets – even before the coronavirus impacts – Vitro says these factors together do not support a $40 million rebuild of its Line 2.
“We already faced a difficult combination of factors affecting Line 2’s future – including a growing oversupply of automotive glass in the marketplace – but the latest economic impacts from the coronavirus outbreak are just too much of a hurdle to invest $40 million in rebuilding it,” said Dave Shaffer, Meadville plant manager. “Line 2 will be stopped in an orderly manner, which will give us an opportunity to rebuild if there is a business case to justify the investment.”
The company will continue to operate on Line 2 until June 10, 2020. Then the company will transform the current two-line operation into a single production line. 90 hourly and 18 salaried positions will be reduced as a result of Line 2’s closure, according to Vitro, out of the facility’s 272 total employment amount.
“Following the decommissioning of the line on June 10th, affected hourly employees will continue to receive healthcare benefits through August 31, 2020 – fully paid [for] by the company – to support their families through this time,” a portion of the company’s release reads.
“We appreciate our colleagues and their contributions through this very difficult time,” said Shaffer. “Our focus is on ensuring that our affected colleagues and their families have the support they need at this time.”
PGW Auto Glass (PGW) recently sent out a letter regarding Vitro’s 2019 safety recall to its customers.
“Vitro has decided that a noncompliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards exists in certain automotive glass parts, specifically the rear glass windows of vehicles, also known as backlites,” a portion of PGW’s letter on the subject reads.
100 NAGS numbers are affected and a recall has been initiated, according to PGW’s letter. The safety recall number is 19E-052. It is important to note not all backlites are impacted. “The noncompliance involves backlites that exceed allowable fragment weight after fracture testing,” a portion of PGW’s letter reads. “This noncompliance could result in particles larger than 4.25 grams occurring after breakage of the backlite.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on April 15, 2020 to specify the timing of PGW’s letter in addition to noting the safety recall originated in 2019.