published Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Housing crackup shutters Huber Engineered Woods factory in Spring City

Huber Engineered Woods
Huber Engineered Woods

A Spring City, Tenn., plant that once employed 150 workers will close by the end of the year.

Huber Engineered Woods announced Wednesday its 14-year-old specialty building products facility will shut down by December. Huber will lay off the remaining 28 employees at the plant.

Huber has run with a skeleton crew since the end of 2008 when the plummeting housing market caused 66 people to be laid off in April and 54 in December. At its peak four years ago, the factory was running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and employed 150 people.

The company cited the continued weakness of residential construction as the reason for the closing.

"The market for those materials has just been stagnant for so long," said Mike Pigott, a company spokesman. "They kept hoping it would come back, but it stayed down for so long that they can't keep going past the end of the year."

Pigott said the company would try to transfer employees. But he said he is unsure how many would be offered new positions.

Even before Wednesday's announcement, unemployment in Rhea County was 12.4 percent -- above both the state and national average.

"I asked them, 'Is there anything we can do to keep you from going?' and they said, 'No. The decision's already been made,'" said Rhea County Executive George Thacker. "It's definitely challenging times."

Huber Engineered Woods is a subsidiary of New Jersey-based J.M. Huber Corp. The company had $1.5 billion of revenue in 2010 and employs 4,000 people in more than 20 countries, according to the company's website.

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