A little more than a year after being approved for a $50,000 incentive from the Sherman Economic Development Corp., an official with Saint-Gobain, the parent company of CertainTeed, confirmed Thursday the company’s Sherman production facility would be closing in the coming weeks.
However, SEDCO Executive Vice President Stacey Jones said not all of the local CertainTeed’s 35 employees would be losing their jobs.
“Half of that building is production, and the other half is warehousing for other CertainTeed products as well,” Jones said. “The warehousing side of that building will remain open. It always had seven or eight employees, and that will remain. It’s warehouse distribution.”
Saint-Gobain Communications Manager Victoria Gallagher confirmed the Sherman facility would be closing, but directed the Herald Democrat’s other questions to Internal & HR Communications Manager Lisa M. Miree-Luke, who did respond to a voicemail or email left seeking comment.
Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates said she learned about the upcoming closure during a job fair last week. Several of the workers confirmed that their last day on the job would be Dec. 5.
“That (the job fair) is usually how we find out about these things,” Bates said.
Bates said she was unsure how many employees with CertainTeed attended the job fair, but she confirmed at least three maintenance workers were in attendance. Jones was also in attendance at the job fair and said she heard from a couple CertainTeed employees that they had gotten “a lot of good leads.”
“They’ve been given lots of assistance,” Jones said. “It’s heart-warming. We are very sad to hear that they (CertainTeed) are closing. We’re all working together as a community to make sure that all those employees find jobs. We don’t want them to leave.”
Bates said she has not heard much from CertainTeed, but heard that officials had invited representatives for other area employers to come and meet with workers before the closure. She was uncertain of the specific skills that the CertainTeed workers have, but said they likely include skill sets such as machining, logistics and clerical work that could translate easily to other workplaces in the area. While the equipment at a new workplace may be different, the experience could help give a job seeker a boost for a new position, Bates said.
“If they have a good background, are accustomed to coming in every day and have that experience with machines, then they are trainable,” Bates said.
“It is never a good time to be laid off, but to be laid off at a time of record low unemployment is fortunate,” she said.
The SEDCO board approved a $50,000 incentive for CertainTeed in August of last year to assist with plans to hire 10 new employees. At the time of the incentive, CertainTeed said the Sherman facility would be adding a second shift and planned to hire the new workers over the following year. On Thursday, Jones said SEDCO’s performance agreement with the company expired without any payment. The SEDCO executive vice president said she believes the second shift was added for some period of time, but wasn’t certain.
CertainTeed Plant Manager Chris Craze said last year that the Sherman plant had made some manufacturing improvements that allowed it to get into a new market.
“So we’re offering a different product line now,” Craze said last year. “And with that, we were able to secure some business that almost consumes one entire shift worth of work. So in order to make our standard products and our new products, we’re going to have to expand and run an additional shift.”
Craze said the new product was insulation that is used in a lot of air-handling equipment and air ducts. At the time of the incentive deal, SEDCO staff said the planned new hires would also allow the Sherman plant to pursue other opportunities within the CertainTeed company.
The layoffs come during what has proven to be a job-seekers market locally in recent years, with near historic low unemployment and openings at many area employers. With that in mind, Bates said she did not believe that the workers will have any difficulty finding work.
Jones said at this point she doesn’t know of any plans for the production portion of the local CertainTeed facility.
“There’s always the possibility (something could be done with it), but I don’t think they’re marketing it,” she said.