Swiss Plywood closing its doors

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Talks with possible buyer fall through

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY – Swiss Plywood closed its doors this week, falling victim to the nation’s struggling domestic furniture industry and a deepening recession.

Bill Borders, chairman of Swiss Plywood, said Monday he was in the process of notifying approximately 40 employees of the decision. Officials announced in December that the company would halt production by the end of the year unless a buyer could be found.

Another furniture company had considered buying Swiss Plywood but economic conditions prevented the deal from moving forward.

“The economy scared them,” Borders said.

Swiss Plywood has been impacted by the daunting challenges facing the U.S. furniture-making industry, Borders said last month.

“In recent years, hundreds of companies and millions of square feet of furniture-manufacturing capacity have been lost in the United States. That same market erosion from overseas competitors, combined with the recent economic conditions, has left us with little choice,” he said.

A severance package plus additional money to help with insurance expenses is being offered to employees and Indiana Department of Workforce Development personnel are being scheduled to meet with workers.

Swiss Plywood is also applying for benefits under the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which provides aid to workers who lose their jobs due to increased imports.

A meeting of employees will be held next week to discuss benefits, Borders said.

An auction of machinery and other plant contents is likely and the company’s buildings, some of the built in the late 1800s, could be razed.

Some of Swiss Plywood’s manufacturing space was originally home to Tell City Furniture Co., which once em-ployed hundreds, perhaps over 1,000 people.

Tough economic times have impacted other employers. Auto parts manufacturer ATTC Manufacturing temporarily halted production last month after Toyota announced it would stop making vehicles around the holidays.

ATTC officials said production at the local plant would resume Jan. 12.

Other employers have also shed jobs or reduced the number of hours their employees are working.