Molded Fiber Glass Companies announced it is shuttering its wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The move will result in 409 layoffs. The plant is expected to close for good on February 15. The 409 job losses at Molded Fiber Glass represents the area’s second-largest round of layoffs in the past 30 years.
The company blamed the layoffs on changing market conditions and proposed revisions to federal tax policies impacting the wind energy industry. Changing market conditions might be the biggest reason, though.
The 325,000-square-foot plant (17+ football fields), which opened in 2008, only had one client: General Electric Company (NYSE:GE).
Molded Fiber Glass worked exclusively with GE, which means the plant was set up to make those particular blades. When GE stopped ordering wind turbine blades from Molded Fiber Glass, its outlook was bleak.
GE stopped using Molded Fiber Glass because it purchased its own blade manufacturing plant, LM Wind Power in Denmark. GE finalized the $1.65-billion deal in April.
“Our customer had no requirements for additional blades from our operation beyond January of 2018,” said Dave Giovannini, senior vice president.
Camille Cox, a communications representative for Molded Fiber Glass, said no one will lose their jobs right away. The job losses will be staggered; those who deal with the turbine blades in the early stages will be the first to be let go. “If you’re sweeping the floor, you’d be the last one,” she said.
Cox noted that a small number of Molded Fiber Glass employees will move to other sites. “MFG does not have any other facilities in the immediate area and the skill set (in Aberdeen) is very specific,” she said.
Based in Ohio, Molded Fiber Glass Companies has operations in Alabama, California, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas. It also has a site in Mexico.
While most people may not know Molded Fiber Glass Companies by name, they know it when they see it. Since 1954, the company has provided the fiberglass composite parts for the “Corvette.”
“With no new orders expected for Aberdeen, Molded Fiber Glass announces plant closure,” Aberdeen News, December 6, 2017.
“GE Completes Acquisition of LM Wind Power,” General Electric Company, April 20, 2017.
“MFG’s Role in America’s Most Beautiful Automobile,” Molded Fiber Glass Companies, last accessed December 7, 2017.