By Darrell Wellman, Nemaha County Herald
Brillion, Wisconsin (June 14, 2018) – Ariens Company has announced the closure of its Auburn Manufacturing Plant located in Auburn, Nebraska, as it leverages its manufacturing footprint in Brillion. The shutdown is expected to be complete sometime between August 17 and October 15 of 2018. The closure affects 193 employees.
“This was a difficult decision knowing the Auburn employee base and the Auburn community, but it just doesn’t make economic sense to keep this plant running in light of the significant productivity improvements that have been made elsewhere in the company,” says Larry Weyers, President, Ariens Power Equipment. “The main plants in Wisconsin have increased daily production by 64 percent compared to last year.”
The Auburn facility, which produces outdoor power equipment, had been running products that the company’s Brillion plants did not have the capacity to manufacture, according to Weyers. However, in light of productivity improvements implemented in Wisconsin over the last 18 months, along with an upcoming plant re-design, the Auburn satellite facility is no longer an economical option.
Ariens Company has a 725,000 sq. ft. manufacturing footprint in Wisconsin with more than 1,000 employees. The company is continuing to implement practices that enable it to manufacture more units per day using a smaller footprint, according to Weyers. In addition, Ariens also recently invested in a new, consolidated distribution center located in southeastern Wisconsin.
Company officials met with employees in Auburn Thursday afternoon, June 14. All regular, full-time employees will be provided with a severance package based on the number of years they have worked at the facility. Employees are welcome to apply for positions at the Brillion facility with the assistance of a relocation bonus, according to the company.
Ariens Company purchased the facility in November of 2007 from Auburn Consolidated Industries (ACI).
Based in Brillion, Ariens Company is a privately-owned and operated corporation focused on outdoor products that serve the needs of both consumer and professional customers.
What May Happen Next
Shortly after Ariens officials informed the plant’s employees of the intent to close the Auburn plant in a few months, they also met with an invited smaller group to inform them about the company’s future plans and what they had told the employees.
Among those present for this meeting were Katy Billings, chairperson with the Auburn Development Council; Kim Beger, administrative assistant for the City of Auburn; Scott Kudrna, Auburn Mayor; Tom Clark, Auburn City Councilman; Dan White, likely new Auburn Mayor after the 2018 General Election; two Ariens corporate officials; a few Ariens Auburn Operations management members; Rick Nelsen, Nebraska Public Power District Economic Developer, and Dan Curran, with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
Billings said, “The labor force and management team at Ariens in Auburn are an enormous asset to any potential buyer, and ADC is prepared to go above and beyond its normal duties to make sure the almost 200 employees affected by the closing of Ariens Auburn will have an opportunity to secure a job with any potential buyer of the Ariens plant site.”
Billings added, “ADC will be reaching out to many different people in the community and asking them to help in this journey. I invite anyone to contact me or the other ADC directors with any questions, comments and concerns.”
Beger offered the following comments about the efforts to retain a manufacturing plant in the city on the Ariens site after that company leaves, “We are a team committed to finding a business to buy the plant so no one currently employed there has to find employment elsewhere.”
She said Ariens officials indicated they would likely be taking some of the equipment from the site and leaving other equipment.
“Ariens is committed to keeping the workforce intact between now and the closing. Everyone is aware that our largest asset is the employment team in the operation. Keeping the staff working on site is our best chance to find a buyer. They are fully qualified and able to carry on with another employer. Also, they have a good quality production record,” Beger said.
She added, “The economic development team is very optimistic that we can find a buyer for this operation. The team is in full force working and gathering data, and will be actively seeking a buyer for the plant. We are asking for the public’s patience at this time. The community needs to put its best foot forward as the effort to find a buyer advances.”
“We need to sell our community in the best possible way. Everyone needs to remain friendly, positive and very welcoming in the near future. You never know who may be in town looking at the plant and its workforce,” Beger concluded.