300 jobs cut at ESAB plant in Florence - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

300 jobs cut at ESAB plant in Florence

Gov. Nikki Haley made a visit to ESAB's new Automation Process Center in Florence in 2011. Gov. Nikki Haley made a visit to ESAB's new Automation Process Center in Florence in 2011.
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - ESAB Welding & Cutting Products announced that it will take a number of steps to restructure its North American operations, to include closing a plant in Florence. 

The Florence facility is scheduled to be closed by March 31, 2016. An estimated 300 associates will be impacted. 

"It's terrible. Anytime people lose jobs it affects not only them but their families, their churches, their schools, it affects everything," said Roger Poston, chairman of Florence County Council. "So it's bad anytime you have closures, but that's the nature of the beast."

ESAB's Florence manufacturing operations will be consolidated into the company's Denton, Texas, and Hermosillo, Mexico, facilities, according to a news release issued by ESAB.

The company's Florence, SC, finance, accounting, customer service, inside sales, and training functions will be consolidated into Texas.

ESAB said it will maintain a limited commercial presence in Florence, SC sales, marketing, marketing communications, and capital goods sales) as well as personnel from order engineering (SIP), IT, and human resources. These functions will eventually be relocated to a new facility in Florence in early 2016, according to ESAB.

Poston as well as James Schofield, vice chairman of the council, said although they both never like to hear about jobs lost, they're looking forward to the continued economic development in the county.

"We lost the Heinz plant. You saw us bounce right back and put Ruiz Foods out there," Schofield said. "Actually, we've got more investment out there now than we had with Heinz. It's a better situation."

Mary Kelley, of the Florence County Economic Development Partnership, said Florence has plenty of assets for new companies looking for a place to call home.

"This is absolutely not a reflection on Florence or its workforce or the opportunities for companies in Florence," Kelley said. "It's just this company's choice to consolidate."

One of those assets is a trained workforce thanks to Florence-Darlington Technical College.

"That is one of the reasons why we are here is because we have a long and healthy partnership with business and industry here in Florence County," said Clay Williams, of FDTC.

Millions of dollars in equipment from ESAB actually helps teach the welders of the future.

"It dates back more than 20 years almost to when ESAB took over the union car buying plant in Florence that we've had this long partnership with them," Williams said.

However, Williams, Kelley and council members agree the building ESAB is currently in will be filled quickly with a new company. Kelley said it's close to I-95, it's 500,000 square feet and it can house heavy equipment.

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