Hammond city officials hope the corporate parent of ASF-Keystone can avoid layoffs that the company warned may be necessary as a result of a downturn in business.
In a news release issued Tuesday, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said he met with officials Monday from Amsted Industries Inc. in Chicago to clarify operating plans of a Hammond plant after an announcement last week that 94 people could be laid off from the facility. The notice, which was sent to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said the layoffs would start Dec. 17 as the result of "unforeseeable business circumstances regarding the dramatic downturn in our business."
The initial announcement rankled officials including McDermott because in June the city signed an agreement allowing ASF-Keystone to save more than $500,000 on its property taxes through a 10-year tax abatement.
"Amsted shared with us that while their expansion and building renovations continue to move forward, orders at this time for 2013 are lower than anticipated," McDermott said in the news release. "Should those orders not pick up and should a downturn in business continue, they must give notice under the WARN Act now to be in compliance should a layoff be necessary."
McDermott said the city and company hope orders improve to avert or minimize the impact of layoffs in the coming weeks.
Amsted is one of Hammond's oldest companies and it manufactures heavy springs for railcars and construction equipment, the news release said. The city said the Hammond plant was considered for closure a few years ago when employment dipped below 60 workers.
The plant currently employs 220 people. The city said at the time the company sought the tax abatement, the company had about 146 employees. With the abatement, the company said it would add about 20 jobs.
“Company officials have told us that they hope to have employment up to predicted levels as soon as possible, or during the first second quarter of 2013,” McDermott said.