On Friday, 204 Regal-Beloit Corporation employees in West Plains learned they will be losing their jobs.
Corporation officials broke the news Friday morning that the company is moving operations to other facilities, Plant Manager Sam Nash told the Quill, adding the closure will be complete by May 31, 2020.
Also on Friday, Regal filed its Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, stating the number of employees will be reduced in increments over the next seven months.
Regal expects to lay off all 204 workers during four two-week periods starting with 12 layoffs Jan. 3, 63 layoffs Feb. 14, 31 layoffs April 3 and then 94 employees to be laid off May 8. The last four employees will clock out for the last time May 31.
The West Plains closure is part of the company’s long-term restructuring plans designed to keep the company competitive in the global marketplace, according to a statement from Robert Cherry, Regal’s vice president of business development and investor relations.
Cherry said the announcement and layoff process will be done in such a way to minimize as much disruption to employees and customers as possible.
West Plains Economic Development Director Dave Bossemeyer is disappointed by Regal’s departure but still hopeful about the future of the city’s economic growth and says he has plans to work with the company to help sell the building and attract a new manufacturer.
“It’s time to step and solve the problem,” said Bossemeyer. He also said that, in the meantime, there are enough open jobs in the area to absorb the 204 employees over the layoff period.
Meanwhile, officials at West Plains City Hall are proceeding with some caution.
"The City of West Plains cannot confirm or deny the reports that the Regal Beloit plant in West Plains is closing. At this time we are trying to confirm those reports with management," said Community Services Director Todd Shanks in a statement emailed to media outlets shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.
"However," he continued, "If this is true, this would be a great disappointment to our community, and we want to assure our citizens that we will work with the State of Missouri and West Plains Regional Economic Development to lessen the impact on those employees and their families."
Regal previously laid off 90 workers as part of a restructuring plan in 2016.
Four hundred jobs were lost when Robertshaw, formerly Invensys Controls, announced the closure of its facility in 2014, a process that ended in early 2016.
Regal Beloit Corp. is based in Beloit, Wisc., and has manufacturing, sales and service facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
The West Plains facility first opened doors as Marathon at 1000 Lanton Road in 1976 and had been responsible for the manufacture of electric motors, specializing in cast iron and explosion-proof motors used in a variety of end markets.
In 2015, the company celebrated 53 workers who had been employed with the company for over 30 years, two of whom had been there since the plant’s first day of operation.
Multiple company officials declined to indicate where the plant operations will be moved to; all those responding to Quill request said only that the plant is moving to different locations, unspecified.
UPDATED AT 5:21 p.m. Nov. 1 to include a statement released by West Plains city officials.