Schneider Electric’s manufacturing lines to move, eliminate 70 Columbia jobs

Thursday, May 24, 2012 | 6:03 p.m. CDT; updated 11:32 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 24, 2012

COLUMBIA — Schneider Electric's plan to move some of its manufacturing lines out of its Columbia facility will cost around 70 local jobs.

The company aims to relocate its low-voltage circuit breaker manufacturing lines to its factory in Tlaxcala, Mexico, by the end of 2013.

Most of the roughly 70 employees the company is letting go are full-time hourly workers without an annual salary, Marty Hanna, the company’s spokesman, said. 

He also said the company will provide severance pay, benefits and help the eliminated employees locate jobs.

“We just try to give an advance notice for our employees,” Hanna said. The actual move will start in the next few months. He did not specify the exact time.

Hanna said the company's primary motivation for relocating the production lines is to focus manufacturing toward one location to reduce costs.

“We are in a global environment, so we always look for opportunities to streamline so we can be more competitive,” Hanna said.

Schneider Electric currently has about 335 employees at its Columbia facility, where it mainly manufactures circuit breakers.

After relocating the manufacturing lines, Hanna said the Columbia plant will become the late adaptation center for the company, focusing on customizing the products in the late stages of production. 

At the same time, the company is transferring some of its late production responsibilities from its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, facility to Columbia. The additional jobs, however, won't be enough to counteract the employment loss on the manufacturing lines.

“What’s leaving is greater than what’s coming,” Hanna said.

The Cedar Rapids facility's low-voltage circuit breaker manufacturing line will also move to Tlaxcala, Mexico, Hanna said. The facility in Mexico will be the company's only center for low-voltage circuit breaker manufacturing.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” Hanna said. 

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