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franklin county times

Foreclosure forces Meridian Machine Works out of business

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
June 26, 2001
Sixty employees, whose salaries average nearly $35,000 a year, will be receiving their last paychecks today with the shutdown of Meridian Machine Works, according to a plant official.
The workers were told Monday the plant would close its doors after receiving notice its bank has begun foreclosure proceedings.
The plant, owned by Lamb-Grays Harbor Co. of Washington State, manufacturers machines for the pulp and paper industry. The plant has been operating since 1972.
Johnson said a combination of a stagnant U.S. market for the pulp industry and some unfortunate investments by the parent company in the Asian pulp market helped contribute to the plant's closure.
According to Johnson, the equipment the plant built for the Asian market was all metric unit equipment so there was no chance of selling it in the U.S.
Johnson said the bank agreed to meet one more payroll and that checks would be sent out to employees today. He said employees' profit sharing agreements and 401k plans would all be protected in the foreclosure.
The foreclosure notice came months after the plant went through two rounds of layoffs. At the end of 2000 the plant had employed as many as 140 workers. Johnson said on average employees were making between $16 to $17 per hour.
The plant still has more than $4 million worth of orders on the factory floor, according to Johnson. He said he will be contacting customers to see which jobs can possibly be finished to help alleviate the company's debt. If the bank allows the company to finish some of those existing jobs then some personnel from the company could temporarily be called back.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.