GUILFORD, Maine — Another blow came to the town of Guilford this week.
American Pride LLC announced Friday that the Guilford plant will be closed and the work consolidated with its sister plant, Maine Wood Turning in New Vineyard, within the next few months.
American Pride purchased the former Pride Manufacturing Co. building on Route 15 in 2005 when that business consolidated in Burnham. At its peak, American Pride employed about 50 people, but because of the failing economy and the efficiencies made within the plant, the number of employees has declined to 18, according to owner Douglas Fletcher.
Maine Wood Turning, which has been in business since 1971, employs about 40 people.
Some of the workers losing their jobs in Guilford will be offered employment in New Vineyard, Fletcher said.
The closing comes on the heels of a layoff of 90 employees at True Textiles in Guilford, which was followed by a cut-back in operations at the plant.
Guilford Town Manager Tom Goulette said Friday that he worried about these developments but understands it’s all about survival. He said the town will aggressively work with Fletcher to market the building to another manufacturer. He said people in the region are hard workers, and that should entice businesses to take ad-vantage of the opportunity.
Both American Pride and Maine Wood Turning make wood turnings for the craft, music and promotion industries, according to Fletcher. American Pride also branched out into hardwood flooring, but the new product never really took off because of the decline in the housing market, he said Friday. The company also has been affected by foreign imports since 90 percent of its competition is from China, he said.
“By doing this, we’re positioning ourselves to be able to withstand some really hard times ahead,” Fletcher said. “It looks like we’re going to be able to retain the business that we have by consolidating both of these businesses under one roof. We’re going to have enough business to keep one mill busy.
“We’ve done everything we could to try to salvage it. Our intent from the beginning was to have a manufacturing facility up there,” Fletcher said of Guilford.
He said the town of Guilford, which helped the company purchase the plant in 2005 by securing a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant, was wonderful to work with. In addition, he said the employees at the Guilford plant were hard workers.
“The folks that are there, I’m going to say, our hats are off to every single one of them,” Fletcher said.
About half of the employees will lose their jobs and those remaining will be offered jobs at the New Vineyard plant, according to Fletcher. Those who are laid off will have assistance through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, he said.
Over the next few months, Fletcher said, the equipment in the Guilford plant will be relocated to New Vineyard. He said the plant would be placed on the real estate market, and he hopes it will be filled by another manufacturer.
“It’s going to be a process. It isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight,” Fletcher said. “It never was our design to close that facility, and it breaks our hearts to have to close it.”