Trevor Junquera/Recorder staff The Fiber Glass Industries plant in the Edson Street Industrial Park is shown this morning.
By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Fiber Glass Industries Inc. (FGI) announced today it will close both of its Amsterdam plants during the next 90 to 120 days, citing insurmountable negative market conditions.
FGI Chairman John Menzel said the closing is a result of intense market competition from foreign manufacturers which are able to sell products at a much lower cost than U.S. companies.
"I have always been proud of what we have accomplished here, but the market only cares about what we can deliver competitively," he said. "Unfortunately, we are competing with government-owned and government-financed competitors in China who have built more capacity than the market can absorb, and their government continues to subsidize these companies to export to the U.S.".
"We are in an environment that has not occurred in the U.S. before," he said. "The prices our customers are willing to pay are 10 percent less than our production costs. To continue this business has become impossible for all of us."
The 57-year-old privately-held company, which employs approximately 120 people, has filed a notice with the state Department of Labor in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, regarding its plan to cease operations.
During the past 28 years, FGI grew its annual sales from $7 million up to $30 million, while increasing its glass strand output from 6 million pounds a year to 30 million pounds.
That growth was made possible, in part, by a 2010 licensing agreement with Owens Corning to employ new technology. FGI invested in 20 new looms and an "S" glass facility for incorporation of that technology.
FGI's customer list has included General Motors, the Hatteras, Viking and Hunter luxury yacht companies, Shakespeare fishing gear, and various oil industry corporations.
However, despite that investment and growth, FGI has been running a deficit since 2008.
Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Department Director Kenneth Rose said the IDA has been working with the company in an attempt to keep it in the city at its two locations.
"We were trying to work with them on refinancing and restructuring their finances but it just didn't work out," Rose said.
Rose said the county has worked with the company on a number of bonding projects in the past 30 years. The closing will have a significant impact on the area. However, he said he will work with FGI on marketing and using a commercial real estate network, and will try to fill the vacancy that will be left once the plants close.
"There are two properties that are going to be available by the end of the year so we will do the best we can to work with Fiberglass Industries throughout this to try to find tenants for those facilities," Rose said.
Menzel said the company was also stymied in an effort to work out a sale to an undisclosed foreign buyer. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is comprised of various departments and offices of the United States, made it impossible to approve the transaction.
During the next 90 to 120 days, FGI will wind down production, while fulfilling customer orders.
In an internal memo to FGI workers, Menzel thanked his employees for their hard work and dedication to product excellence.
"I appreciate the work that all of you put into this business and enjoyed working with you here every day," he said in the memo. "I guess if I did it just for the money, I would have given up in 2008, but sometimes we just do it for the love of manufacturing."