The front page headline in our local newspaper yesterday was devastating. A major employer in this rural community, Robertshaw (until recently called "Invensys"), will be closing the doors of its West Plains manufacturing plant in March of 2016 and moving nearly four hundred jobs to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. According to the article by Terry Hampton in the West Plains Daily Quill, Robertshaw has 5,400 employees in twelve countries. It currently operates thirteen factories, two distribution centers, and four engineering centers. The company's headquarters is in Carol Stream, Illinois.
The local factory manufactures gas valves and gas products for the cooking and heating markets.
Robertshaw will also be closing a factory in Hanover, Illinois.
The local Robertshaw workforce is equal to over three percent of the total population of West Plains. Granted, not all of the employees live within the city, but all do live close enough to allow for a daily commute - and many have families who work, shop, and go to school in West Plains.
The effects of this closing as they ripple across families and the entire local community will be devastating. Entire families will be forced to move - either to Robertshaw jobs in other locations (and there are no other Robertshaw plants in Missouri), or as they seek jobs in other areas of the state or country. Some may step down to local jobs for which they are over-qualified just to stay in the area - thereby taking opportunities from other less qualified job seekers. And, the demand for services will necessarily decrease as people are driven from the community.
A spokesman for Robertshaw said that the closing of their factory here in West Plains was "purely a business decision." What a sorry, greedy business it is!