Holland Works To Save JCI Jobs

March 30, 2004
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HOLLAND — Even before the formal announcement was made, city leaders Monday were already moving to save 885 jobs that Johnson Controls Inc. plans to eliminate as it phases out production of sun visors in Holland and moves the work to Mexico.

Holland Mayor Al McGeehan said he anticipates an incentive package coming forward from the state to save sun-visor production at the Southview plant on the city’s south side.

Losing the work would represent the largest job loss ever in Holland and cause further pain to a local economy coping with deep job cuts during the last three years from the office furniture industry, the closing two years ago of the former LifeSavers plant that at one time employed 1,100 people, and the recent decision by Baker Furniture to close its Holland plant that employed 180 people.

“I have hope. I have to have hope throughout this or I wouldn’t begin this response,” said McGeehan, who was notified by JCI of the pending job cuts prior to Monday afternoon’s announcement and had been in contact with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to begin planning to try to save the JCI jobs.

“I find these to be very troublesome times. America can’t continue to afford these kind of hits to our local job markets, certainly not Holland,” McGeehan said.

Johnson Controls, which acquired the former Prince Corp. in 1996 for $1.3 billion, is the largest employer in the Holland area, with more than 5,000 workers, and the city’s largest taxpayer. In a move designed to cut costs, the company will phase out the production of sun visors in Holland, as well as a Glasgow, Ky., plant that employs 180 people, over an 18-month period and consolidate production to a plant in Ramoz Arizpe, Mexico.           

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