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Jamestown Metal Products to close area plant

JAMESTOWN — “It was a shock.”

That’s how David Vaughn described feeling when notified Wednesday morning that Jamestown Metal Products, in operation for more than 75 years, would permanently close its doors by Sept. 4.

Vaughn said employees were gathered in the shipping area of the 178 Blackstone Ave. plant and given word that the Tennessee-based Institutional Casework Inc. had opted to close the local business instead of forging ahead with previous plans to “refocus” efforts toward producing items such as fume hoods. Founded in 1943, Jamestown Metals produces painted and stainless steel furniture and equipment.

Vaughn has worked for the company for 15 years and lives within walking distance to the plant. He said he plans to stay until September in order to qualify for severance being offered to employees.

“In my tenure I’ve worked with people who had been here for 45 years,” Vaughn said. “This has been around since the World War II era. It’s just always been around.”

A letter detailing the closure from Joseph Crews, human resources director for Institutional Casework Inc., given to employees was obtained by The Post-Journal.

“The management of Jamestown Metal Products LLC, a division of Institutional Casework, has determined that the best direction of the company is to close its facility, located at 178 Blackstone Avenue, Jamestown,” the letter reads. “The closing of this plant will be permanent and will constitute a filing under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The plant will stop production on September 4, 2020.”

In February, the company announced it planned to lay off 37 of its 77 workers at its Jamestown facility by May 8. At the time, Crews said the plant would begin to “refocus” producing fume hoods and other metal products core to its business strengths. Institutional Casework Inc. purchased Jamestown Metal in 2009.

“We are trying to look at the products we make at that plant to make sure they are profitable,” Crews said previously. “We felt this was the best thing to do to stay profitable. … We hated to do it.”

“We still have long-term plans,” he continued. “We felt that by cutting back, we can focus on things such as fume hoods, which is the best avenue to protect those workers. I know it’s a hard thing to hear from a business.”

The company has since rescinded its February notice filed with the state. No layoffs have taken place to date.

Vaughn said he believes he will be able to find new work, even amid the coronavirus pandemic that has forced some businesses to close. He said he feels bad for his coworkers, many of whom he has gotten to know well.

“It’s a shame, a real shame,” he said.

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