Gunite shuts down Elkhart facility

An Elkhart facility that employed more than 200 people shut down its operations Friday.

Gunite Corporation is consolidating and moving production to Rockford, Illinois.

Word of the move first came in July, with plans to cease operations in 2013. Accuride, Gunite's parent company, later announced that the date would be moved up.

The company has slowly let go of the 210 employees, with 140 remaining on the final day.

"I've known most of them for 34 years," employee Bruce Clay said. "It is like leaving family. That was my life."

Many of the employees spent their last lunch break together outside the main facility doors.

"There were hugs and kisses, and probably a few tears," employee Tony Hegedus said. "I'm sure there were a couple of tears too. But that is how it goes. Everything ends."

A spokesperson for Accuride said that there was a job fair on site in October to help workers with the transition. Five salaried employees have been transferred to other company facilities.

Some of the Gunite employees have already secured jobs.

"I've been blessed with a job in Goshen, right next to my wife," said Michael King Jr.

But, others worry that their age may hinder their job hunt.

"I am 60 years old," Hegedus said. "Not a lot of people looking for a 60-year-old man."

"I started here right after high school," Clay said. "Everything is done differently now as far as looking for a job."

Sixteen hourly and 11 salaried workers will remain on board to conduct shutdown of the facility for a few more weeks, according to Accuride.

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