Celestica closes Minn. plant; 590 jobs gone

Arden Hills plant
The Celestica circuit board plant in Arden Hills, Minn. is being shut down, putting 590 people out of work.
Photo courtesy of Celestica

Celestica provides a wide array of manufacturers with circuit boards and other electronic components that go inside computers, medical devices, aircraft avionics, PDAs and other devices.

The company has about 30 manufacturing and design facilities around the world and over 43,000 employees. In 2008 it had nearly $8 billion in revenue.

But it's been seeing weaker demand for its components as manufacturers face falling demand for their products.

"I don't believe we're immune to any of what's going on from an economic standpoint," said Paul Allen, site manager for Celestica's Arden Hills plant.

"Unfortunately, we're in the same position as a lot of companies. we have to take the appropriate measures to align ourselves to stay competitive so we can offer a competitive product at a competitive price for our customers," explained Allen.

And in the restructuring underway at Celestica that means the Arden Hills plant will be closed.

The company says it tried to bring in new business and cut costs to make the plant viable, but those efforts did not work out.

Allen indicated jobs will start to be cut in April and the plant will close in November.

Allen says the closing is not a reflection on the performance of the workers at the plant.

"They've been a wonderful group of people, and they continue to be; they continue to amaze myself and a number of other folks in how they're dealing with their situation. They should be applauded for that," said Allen.

The circuit board industry in Minnesota has had a mighty fall since the start of this decade.

Employment is down nearly 60 percent so far this decade.

According to Steven Hine, an economist with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the circuit board sector used to be larger than it is today.

"Back in 2000 before the impact of both the recession and the dot com collapse, there were nearly 9,000 employees in that industry. That quickly dropped off in the 3,000 plus range by 2004 and was just short of 3500 as recently as 2007," said Hine.

In conference call with investors late this afternoon, Celestica revealed the first quarter does not look good for the company. It says sales in the quarter could fall about 20 percent.

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