Erwin leaders and Morrill Motors employees react to plant closing

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ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL)- Morrill Motors announced Tuesday it will close next year-leaving more than 130 out of a job.

PREVIOUS STORY: County Mayor: Morrill Motors in Erwin to close within next 12 months

“I have a job right now and I’m grateful for that right there. I mean it’ll affect me in the long run just a little bit,” said Craig Wilson, a Morrill Motors employee.

He is just one of those affected by Regal Beloit’s decision to close Morrill Motors in Erwin over the next twelve months.

“You lose your seniority, you lose your pay scale, you don’t lose your friends that you work with but you miss working with them,” said Wilson

He says this morning’s announcement was tough on everyone.

“Our plant manager- he’s a very good man, and he was almost in tears this morning telling us. He fought hard for us and he was emotional about it,” said Wilson.

Wilson also isn’t sure when his last day on the job will be.

The parent company says the plant will be closed by September 2020.

Here is their full statement:

“Regal Climate Solutions is in the process of restructuring its business to proactively position the company for long-term success. Following an extensive review, the Climate business has decided to close its Erwin, TN facility and will either transfer the production to other company facilities or outsource it. The transfer and outsourcing of work will take place over the next 12 months and is expected to be completed by September 2020. We are committed to working closely with our associates and customers throughout this process to minimize disruption or personal impact and to ensure a successful transition.”

ROBERT CHERRY
VICE PRESIDENT – BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & INVESTOR RELATIONS

Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley says the announcement felt “sudden.”

“I’m sure that it was a surprise to the local management as well as it was to the governments,” said Hensley.

She says in recent communication with the company- there were no signs of the Erwin plant being shut down.

“Our economic development director has been in conversation with Regal Beloit for months now and this was a surprise to him, always before when we’ve reached out to them, everything has been in good shape,” said Hensley.

City and county leaders met today following the announcement.

Hensley says – they’re already asking for help from Nashville.

“We’ve contacted the state of Tennessee, we reached out to them for their help and they’ve guaranteed their assistance for us in trying to not only recruit new industries in here but to do some job placements for us also.” said Hensley.

She says that work already is underway.

Unicoi County’s Economic Development website has videos and resources for businesses and companies to show them what the county has to offer. It is just part of what the Mayor calls a work in progress.

“We have a good incentive package right now but obviously- we need to do better,” said Hensley.

She says another company might already be able to step in and help.

“There has been some interest in another plastic company that might come in here and be interested in taking over the plastic portion of production but hopefully we can work something out with that,” said Hensley.

The Unicoi County Economic Development Board meeting was already scheduled for Wednesday. Tuesday’s announcement about Morrill Motors will immediately have an impact with the closing now being part of the discussion.

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