LAPORTE | A major employer in LaPorte is shutting down, a decision that eliminates about 120 jobs.
Joe Walker, president of ATI Castings operation in LaPorte, said workers were notified Thursday. Operations will cease by the end of June.
"We'll be closing," Walker said.
The decision came about a week after the LaPorte City Council extended a 2008 tax abatement for the manufacturing company to help its attempts to recover from a drop in demand for its products since the 2008 economic downturn.
ATI Casting Service is at a facility that has been in LaPorte since at least the 1930s. In recent decades, it was better known as Teledyne.
The maker of die castings at 300 Philadelphia St. saw its workforce in LaPorte drop from 270 to 120. However, its vice president of operations, Paul Ferrara, recently indicated there were positive signs after cost-saving measures were put into place two years ago.
City councilman Roger Galloway said he knew the company was struggling but didn't expect the decision to close to come so suddenly after its tax abatement was extended.
"I'm a little surprised they went right now," Galloway said.
Ferrara had told the City Council on-time deliveries were up 80 percent while productivity had increased 20 percent. He also said sales were up significantly during the first quarter of 2014 and he expected similar results for the second quarter.
"A lot of business has gone off-shore," Ferrara has said. He noted the company made up for some of the loss in business by landing 25 new customers with all but one returning for more of its products.
Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Bert Cook said GLEDC under its job retention and expansion program had been working with ATI Castings to try and bring about positive change.
"We've been aware that there's certain things going on within the corporate structure that maybe didn't set the stage for great things here in LaPorte, but I am a little bit surprised," Cook said.
Cook said one major focus of his office will be to try and assist employees to find other jobs, possibly, at existing area manufacturers.
ATI Casting Service produces ferrous castings ranging from 500 to 200,000 pounds in all grades of ductile and gray iron. Products include 16-cylinder diesel locomotive engine blocks, automotive stamping dies, printing presses and machine tool frames.
The company has about 60 locations, including in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.