ST. GEORGE – The architectural glass manufacturer Viracon, Inc. announced this week that it will be temporarily closing its St. George plant in mid-April for an estimated two years, contingent on its market recovery. The closing of the plant will cost over 200 jobs locally and may impact City funding for affordable housing projects, among other things.
The plant, located at 1586 East Venture Drive, is the smallest of Viracon’s manufacturing facilities and opened in May 2007 to meet growing customer demands in the southwestern United States. It created over 200 jobs for Washington County workers.
Located in the Fort Pierce Business Park, Viracon has been the principal business in the City of St. George’s Community Development Area and Fiscal Year 2012 was the last incentive year for it. As part of the adopted budgets for the Fort Pierce Economic Development Agency Districts, the St. George Redevelopment Agency is required to use 20 percent of the tax increments received to fund affordable housing projects within the City.
Both Felix Vega and his wife work at the plant and are now facing an uncertain future, like the couple hundred other local Viracon employees.
“I do not know where we can turn next,” Vega said. “This will make problems for many others too. It is sad.”
Viracon released the following statement Tuesday:
Viracon, Inc., the nation’s leading single-source architectural glass fabricator, announced plans to temporarily cease operations at the smallest of its three United States manufacturing locations. Viracon announced today that it will close its St. George, Utah plant for approximately two years beginning in mid-April 2013. The temporary closure will better align overall capacity with the demand expected over the next two years, which can be served from Viracon’s two other U.S. locations. The company also plans to upgrade the coating capabilities at the St. George plant to expand the plant’s product offerings before reopening. The plant closing will impact 222 employees.
“This was a very difficult but necessary decision that we had hoped to avoid,” Viracon President Kelly Schuller said. “Our St. George workforce has done a great job, but the prolonged construction downturn required us to act to improve our operating efficiencies and maintain our competitive position.”
Relocation opportunities are being discussed with employees on a case-by-case basis. The 210,000 square foot St. George manufacturing facility will be retained and improved by Viracon during the closure. In particular, the company plans to upgrade the coating capabilities at the St. George plant before reopening, as the market recovers, which is expected to be in approximately two years.
Production schedules, deliveries and lead times will be unaffected by the temporary closure. Production will be absorbed in one of the company’s other two U.S. manufacturing facilities located in Owatonna, Minn. and Statesboro, Ga.
Viracon is based in Owatonna, Minn. and has facilities in Statesboro, Ga., St. George, Utah and Nazaré Paulista, Brazil. Viracon produces high-performance glass products, including tempered, laminated, insulating, silk-screened and high-performance coatings, for North American and international markets. The company is a subsidiary of Apogee Enterprises, Inc. Apogee, headquartered in Minneapolis, is a leader in technologies involving the design and development of value-added glass products and services.
The discussion above contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements reflect Apogee management’s expectations or beliefs as of the date of this release.
Viacon’s qualifications to its statement are set forth in greater detail on the Washington County Development Council’s website.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.
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