Morris Material Handling Inc in the USA is to close its Oak Creek, Wisconsin plant and transfer production to other Morris plants within the state.

Around 65 manufacturing employees will be affected by the move, a step that company president Jack Stinnett said ‘will allow Morris to competitively serve our current soft market and will structurally improve our competitiveness for the future’.

In the last three years Morris has had a 50% fall in demand for large industrial cranes due to the downturn in the US steel and primary metals industries, Stinnett said.

An undisclosed but ‘substantial’ amount of money will be saved, according to David Smith, VP finance, who said that the overall cost structure is what has driven the move. Running costs at Oak Creek, which has 240,000sqft of manufacturing space, are prohibitive, Morris says. The Watertown and Windsor plants, each about 30,000sqft, carry lower operating, production and wage costs. Managers have yet to decide whether the Oak Creek plant will be sold off or leased.

Complete cranes and hoists used to be manufactured at Oak Creek but overhead cranes are now assembled in Franklin Ohio, and Birmingham Alabama. The M-Series Hevi-Lift hoist is manufactured in Birmingham and the HL300 Hevi-Lift hoist is now assembled in Winsdor Wisconsin.

Now the largely unused Oak Creek production building houses a machine shop making parts including gears, wheels, shafts and drums used in new crane and hoist components and replacement parts. Most of this production, including some of the machinery, will be transferred from Oak Creek, a suburb just south of Milwaukee, to the Watertown plant, about 50 miles west, and the rest to Windsor, about 95 miles away. Work on the transfer, due to be completed by June, is to start straight away.

Some of the 65 employees from Oak Creek may apply for jobs at these plants but distance is a factor and there will only be between about 20 and 25 positions, mostly at Windsor, according to Smith. Retained at Oak Creek will be an office of 125 managerial, administrative and engineering staff.