Lempco, an industrial facility located in New Lexington, Ohi, manufactured die sets, guiding components and springs for the automotive industry.
Based out of Cleveland,2 the company was founded in 1917 by James F. Strnad,3 who began a small machine shop to work on government projects during World War I.5 Following the war, Lempco found an increasing demand for automobile replacement axles. The company later introduced the Hypermatic Press, and later expanded in other cities, such as New Lexington.
In 2001, employees made concessions to keep Lempco from experiencing financial problems at the New Lexington location.1 Ron Glass, the union president with the Local 7187 of the United Steelworkers of America, stated that they had “opened their books and told us they were having some problems,” and that the workers “agreed to cut our throats by making concessions so that the company could stay alive.”
By the following year, it had seemed that the sacrifices had worked. Richard Myles, president and CEO of Lempco, stated that the company was “in good shape,” and that a letter was sent to distributors from the owners, the Strnad family.1 The letter read that “Lempco’s stability is your insurance that we will be standing behind the products you purchase for us in the years to come.”
But by early 2003, Lempco requested for concessions again, and the union agreed to $600,000 worth of cutbacks, layoffs and benefit cuts.1 The move did not work and in October, the company gave WARN notices, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, to the employees.3 4 The union began bargaining with the company and made concessions in November. The employees, in a last-ditch effort to save their jobs, offered to purchase the company in November.3 4 The offer was declined.
The company’s future looked bleak as it negotiated with another company to buy only the assets of Lempco after a bank loan was called for in December. Lempco attempted to sell the business in order to pay the creditors, or it faced going into bankruptcy.2 Michael Bushway, the tax and benefits manager for Lempco, stated that the company had been dying for at least three years due to lower-than-expected sales and few concessions from the union.
To the employees, the move was devastating and the timing could not have been worse. Most of the employees felt they could not find another job, let alone health insurance, because of their age. The average age of an employee at Lempco was 54, and the average employment time was 25 years.1 They felt as if the company “stabbed them in the back” after conceding so much over the years to help Lempco stay afloat. Most of the workers had not seen a raise since 1985.
Lempco closed its New Lexington facility on December 31.3 The remaining 103 employees were terminated.4 The company sold its assets from the New Lexington plant to Danly IEM, a 75-year-old company based out of Middleburg Heights, on January 1, 2004.2 The new company brought in temporary workers to move equipment out of the warehouse, with private security guards escorting them to and from their vehicles. Meanwhile, members of Local 7187 kept vigil at the plant, protesting the plant’s closure and their job terminations. Union members stated that they had 18 months left remaining on their contract, although their insurance benefits were deleted.[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Sources” state=”closed”]
- Thompson, Kathy. “Lempco employees have grim outlook on future.” Times Recorder [Zanesville] 26 Dec. 2003: A1. Print.
- Thompson, Kathy. “Lempco Inc. employees picket.” Times Recorder [Zanesville] 3 Jan. 2004: A1. Print.
- Thompson, Kathy. “Lempco Industries to close at year’s end.” Times Recorder [Zanesville] 18 Dec. 2003: A1. Print.
- Thompson, Kathy. “Still on strike.” Times Recorder [Zanesville] 21 Jan. 2004: A1. Print.
- “Company Profile.” LEMPCO. N.p., 2010. Web. 7 Oct. 2010. Article.