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Ceredo rubber maker closes

Dec. 12, 2008 @ 11:15 PM

CEREDO -- When Vernon Browning finished his shift at American National Rubber Co. in Ceredo on Friday evening, a letter was waiting for him at the time clock. The first word he noticed was "Termination."

An estimated 50 to 60 other workers lost their jobs Friday as the plant shut down.

Browning said the letter explained that the company had defaulted on loan payments to Fifth Third Bank, which then foreclosed on the plant.

Ceredo Mayor Mose Napier said he had received calls from employees informing him that the plant had shut down.

"They called me and told me about it," Napier said. "It makes it bad for the community."

A company manager could not immediately be reached for comment Friday evening.

According to local economic leaders, the closing is an example of the ripple effect from the economic crisis in the auto industry. American National Rubber manufactured rubber products for Ford Motor Co., among others.

"I know they've had difficulties, even before this latest crunch," said Jerry McDonald, president of the Huntington Area Development Council.

McDonald said he hadn't heard that the plant was shutting down, but wasn't surprised by the news.

"They supply to the automotive industry, and I know they've had problems even before," he said.

America's three automotive giants, Ford included, are currently lobbying congress for a $14 billion bailout as the industry continues to plummet in the midst of a global recession.

The local steel industry also has suffered at the hands of the downward spiral in the automotive market.

AK Steel in Russell, Ky., recently laid off 650 workers temporarily while placing the mill on "hot idle" status. Steel of West Virginia has been making a string of layoffs over the past few months, the largest of which was a furlough of 52 workers in November.

Other local industry sectors have been hit by the slow economy as well.

Greif Brothers, which manufactures packaging products, announced earlier this month it would be shutting down its Culloden plant, putting 41 employees out of work by January.



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