General Electric Co. to close Ravenna plant

By Mike Sever and Diane Smith | Staff Writers Published:

The General Electric Co.'s 50-year manufacturing presence in Ravenna may be ending next year. The company notified workers in Ravenna and Warren that the company intends to close the plants by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

The closures were blamed on "dramatic and continuing decline in demand" for the products made at the plants. The announcement does not affect the 452,000-square-foot distribution center located on S.R. 14 north of the plant, which employs some 40 people.

The Ravenna plant, located on 56.42 acres on North Chestnut Street at S.R. 14, employs 164 people. More than two-thirds of those -- 112 people -- would be eligible for retirement or a plant-closing pension option, said Christopher Augustine, a GE spokesman. The remaining 52 employees would be eligible for preferential employment placement at up to 10 GE locations, severance, tuition reimbursement for education and retraining, and continued insurance, medical and dental benefits for affected employees and their covered dependents.

The Warren plant, which makes halogen PAR lamps and specialty incandescent products, employs 198 people.

"This is a difficult announcement to make, due to its potential impact on our people. Unfortunately, the declining volume in our plant makes us unable to continue to operate cost competitively and necessitates our making this proposal," said Larry Krift, plant manager for the Ravenna Lamp Plant.

"If this action moves forward, we will make every reasonable effort to minimize the impact on affected employees and their families using GE's wide-ranging benefits," Krift said.

The Ravenna plant makes high-intensity discharge lamps. A statement from GE said the plant currently operates at less than one-third of its full capacity as customers have shifted to less-costly energy efficient lighting products. GE said the decision on whether to close the Ravenna plant is contingent upon the outcome of a process called "idea generation" in which employees have an opportunity to offer cost-saving alternatives to the plan. A final decision on the plant closing would be made after these talks are completed within 60 days. If the decision is to proceed, operations will be phased out no sooner than one full year from the announcement date.

GE's operations in Ravenna date back to the early 1960s. At its peak, the local plant employed some 400 workers at the 160,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and the distribution center.

Kerry Macomber, community development director for the city of Ravenna, said the city and the Portage County Development Board spoke Thursday with the Ravenna plant's general manager. Macomber said, when he asked, Mayor Joseph Bica was told that the "idea generation" period has in the past resulted in a plant staying open.

Even if the plant closes, Macomber said she is encouraged that the distribution center would remain open. She expressed hope that the company would build on that facility in the future.

"It's a nice facility," she said. "It sits on a rail line. They really could make better use of that facility. Maybe that will happen."

Macomber said the company's income tax receipts have steadily declined since 2009, when workers paid a combined total of $322,000 to the city. That's almost $100,000 more than the $235,000 the plant's employees paid last year, though the number of employees has remained steady.

Brad Ehrhart, president of the Portage County Development Board, also spoke to GE officials Thursday afternoon.

"We'll continue to work closely with the city of Ravenna and do what we can do to recover," he said.

GE made a similar closing announcement about its Monterrey, Mexico lamp plant last week.

Contact these reporters at 330-541-9400, msever@recordpub.com or dsmith@recordpub.com

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  • ARE YOU KIDDING ME???..Obama's fault???..I lost my job after 12 yrs..when the bush era got rid of the bulbs we made...and I wasn't aloud to blame that prez...because HIS supporters said it was GE's decision..and if ya care, which prez started the EPA???..QUICK, QUICK!!..It was a republican!!!...ohmy!!...

  • ARE YOU KIDDING ME???..Obama's fault???..I lost my job after 12 yrs..when the bush era got rid of the bulbs we made...and I wasn't aloud to blame that prez...because HIS supporters said it was GE's decision..and if ya care, which prez started the EPA???..QUICK, QUICK!!..It was a republican!!!...ohmy!!...

  • Frmrgewrkr Thank you for the information. My last contact with GE was years ago and I may have misunderstood their purpose. I take it that you are a former GE employee and I am sure more knowledgeable on this subject than me. Maybe you can clear another thing. I under stood that those Sodium and other such lights were outlawed also. Is this true and will this take effect at a later date? I know that the dates have to do with the wattage.

  • DoWhatsRight, you are correct about measures passed to ban production of incandescent light bulbs. However, the Ravenna Lamp plant does not make that type of lighting. Their lamps fall under the category of High Intensity Discharge Lamps and Lucalox High pressure sodium light bulbs for Energy Efficiency and long life. These lamps are typically used when high levels of light over large areas are required, and when energy efficiency and/or light intensity are desired. These areas include gymnasiums, large public areas, warehouses, movie theaters, football stadiums, outdoor activity areas, roadways, parking lots, and pathways. Most of the lighting at Ravenna can be made at GE plants in Hungary and China. So, rest assured these products can still be purchased. They just won't be Made In America. Since Jeff Immelt took over GE he has worked diligently on downsizing American manufacturing of GE products and moving production overseas. If that name sounds familiar, Mr. Immelt was chosen by President Obama as the country's "job tsar". Buy American, Not GE.

  • Did you forget that Obama‚Äôs people have passed a law making it illegal to sell incandescent light bulbs? It just took effect on certain wattages this January. Other wattages will take effect a little later. We all have to use those energy efficient ones that are made in China.

  • You can't save what they don't want to save. GE has known for years they needed to upgrade the factory but did nothing. Would have been a great place for the LED mfg. but instead everything they do is in Cleveland or overseas. If Ravenna does not get some new business it will be going downhill on a faster roll.

  • If the almighty Obama saved the auto industry, then he should have saved the GE plant too.

  • Another business leaving Ravenna. Nothing new there. How can we blame anyone but our local officails?? From the leaders of the safety forces to the mayor's office, all are a study in ineptitude. Will the last business to leave Ravenna please turn out the light? (no pun intended).

  • Agree whole-heartedly with "wolf". All businesses who provide revenue to Ravenna City through income tax are leaving and who's moving in..............all the non-profits! Coleman, PMHA, NDS, etc. Ravenna is really "sinking" have you driven down the various streets and seen all the commercial "for sale" signs?

  • Wow People, the Mayor had nothing to do with GE closing the plant. They have been wanting to shut those doors for years!!! Quit pointing fingers! If anything this will give Bica the ammo to make the medical corridor he forsees in that area! GE thanks for the years here, but move on like you did with your MRI department going to China..

  • Its no surprise another business is leaving that rechid city.THE dream team bica, macomber and engelfart have done it again. Wow way to step it up guys. Must be one of the teams wonders of downsizing right. What happened to the two fire departments that were a "done Deal" merging. Oh ya, that didnt work either. Seems to me that city will never flourish or move forward as long as the dream team closes the gates, except for PMHA, Kevin Coleman BS. Hey whats the rumor mill about the new soup kitchen half way house going in at the old hot shots. Another brilliant idea. Should re name that city the titanic..cuz its sinking.

  • GE makes lights that no one wants to buy, and somehow this is Obama's fault? Get real, people.

  • Same number of employees, less money? Did they get their pay cut, too? Oh, it couldn't be, not with Obama saving the middle class. BTW, $322,000 is almost $100,000 MORE than $235,000.

  • Kerry Macomber is dreaming, build on that site..........people smell the roses! Business's are leaving Ravenna for Kent, Streetsboro and Brimfield. Companies are going to the rt 43 corridor not the rt 14 speedway.

  • Due to the demand of guns with the salesman of the year, Mr. Obama leading the charge, three gun stores have just opened in the area. One on Rt 14 in streetsboro, One on Rt 44 in Rootstown and on RT 43 in Brimfield. Not one in ravenna, where was Bica team on this one?

  • Yesterday at the Elks Club where local politicans met 60 people, Mayor Bica said he hopes 2013 will be a prosperous year after 2012, which he called a "cleanup year" for the city. "We're making quite a bit of progress," he said. "Although we're a municipality, we try to do things within the best practices of the business community." If the closing of GE is the mayors best practice that he has in the business community, watch OUT RAVENNA. Let's have a scoreboard on how many business's close in ravenna. BTW, Obama had nothing to do with the closing GE. It's their product line that they make here, it's like Ravenna behind the times.

  • Thank you Mr. Obama - once again you've outdone yourself.