Update: Kutztown foundry closing due to lack of demand

Patriot photo by Dan Clark The Kutztown Foundry will be closing its doors after 144 years in operation.

The Berks County Workforce Development Board looked into the reasons why the Kutztown Foundry is closing its doors after 144 years of operation.

The public and workers were notified on March 5 that the plant would be shutting down and the final day of operation is planned for May 5, laying-off 123 jobs.

The Kutztown Foundry is a manufacturer of steel parts for mining rails and railroads. The foundry was purchased by McConway & Torley in 1980 which has another plant in Pittsburgh.

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Ed McCann, chief operating officer of the Berks County Workforce Development Board, said that the management at the Kutztown Foundry believed that the reason that the plant is closing is because of a lack of demand.

“They made no indication that the plant was closing due to foreign competition,” McCann said last week after his meeting with the foundry managers.

If the foundry closed because of foreign trade, the employees would be able to receive more benefits and stipends in terms for retraining, according to McCann.

“Unfortunately, the market has dropped off tremendously because of the economy,” said Kutztown Foundry plant manager Dave Yopconka in a previously published Patriot article.

Certain parts of the steel industry are very successful at this time, Yopconka explained. He said that the automotive industry is in full swing but railroad parts and mining tracks are currently on a decline.

The plant is set to close on May 5 which will be the employees’ last day of work.

According to McCann, there will not be period of phasing out employees and most if not all of the foundry workers will be working until May 5.

Until then, the foundry’s management will be hosting informational sessions for the employees.

“The sessions will be showing the employees how to fill out forms for unemployment and giving them information for new jobs.”