Dometic Corporation laying off nearly 200 employees in LaGrange

LaGRANGE, Ind. (WNDU) --- Nearly 200 people will be laid off in LaGrange after Dometic Corporation, a manufacturing plant, told its employees Wednesday it’s closing down.

“We were all blown away. Totally caught off guard,” seven-year Dometic Corporation employee Karl Kotz said.

Kotz says Dometic held a shopwide meeting Wednesday afternoon to tell all of its 197 employees that the plant will be permanently closing and that all them are being laid off.

“There were people crying, some of them have 35, 40 years in here. It used to be employers wanted to retire from the factory, and now you feel they just use you,” Kotz said.

The plant is expected to close on March 31 — the same day employees will be laid off.

Why? One employee who wanted to remain anonymous said it’s because a new plant is allegedly opening in Mexico.

In statement to 16 News Now, the employee says, “They sent all of our jobs to Mexico. The building ran terribly and treated their workers like crap. They let the higher-ups know that this was going to happen last October but they didn’t tell the employees anything because they were afraid people were going to leave. Now, I have to find a new job.”

One person trying to help employees find a new job is LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation President Bill Bradley.

“Our main concern is really with the families to make sure that their transition for working at Dometic to another position in the region or in the county is as easy as possible,” Bradley said.

However, according to Bradley, Demotic closing its doors is not all bad news.

“It does give us the opportunity to have a building to market to the outside world,” Bradley said.

While it may pay off to flip Dometic in the long term, in the short term, Bradley says he is focusing on finding new jobs for Dometic employees.

“It is definitely not the end of the world, but we are concerned once again about the welfare of these employees and families. That is our focus,” Bradley said.

Bradley says in the next 60 days, he will be organizing job fairs and working with Dometic human resources staff about possibly helping employees transition into new jobs elsewhere.

16 News Now reached out to Dometic Corporation, which responded with this statement Thursday evening:

“This is a tough day for our employees in LaGrange”, says Scott Nelson, President Region Americas. Dometic will work closely with State and Local government officials to coordinate services that will help the affected workers with job search assistance, education and training opportunities, and to minimize the difficult impacts of the layoff.

“We fully understand the consequences for affected employees and their families and this is a difficult message to deliver, but this activity is necessary at this time. As part of our continuous strive to become more efficient, transferring our awnings production to our existing facility in Mexico will ensure that our manufacturing meets our customer’s requirements for lead time, quality and cost.”, concludes Scott Nelson.

The company had a meeting with the union representatives and employees this afternoon to discuss the plans.