Dielectric closing Raymond facility, laying off 55

Posted April 22, 2013, at 7:27 p.m.
Last modified April 23, 2013, at 9:45 a.m.

RAYMOND, Maine — A company that has manufactured radio and television antennas in Maine for almost 60 years announced on Friday that it would be shuttering its plant and laying off its workforce.

SPX Communication Technology, formerly known as Dielectric Communications, will be closing effective June 29, according to an automated message that’s played when a person calls the company’s phone number. The company is owned by Charlotte, N.C.-based SPX.

“It’s definitely very bad news for the town of Raymond and the Sebago Lakes region,” Don Willard, Raymond’s town manager, told the Bangor Daily News on Monday.

The company employs 55 people, making it one of the two largest employers in the community, Willard said. The other is Sabre Yachts, he said.

Willard said all 55 will be losing their jobs, according to a letter dated April 19 that SPX sent to Samuel Gifford, chairman of Raymond’s Board of Selectmen. The letter, which Willard provided to the BDN, says the layoffs will occur on July 19 and are “expected to be permanent.”

“Losing any business is a tremendous loss,” he said. “But perhaps the greatest loss for Raymond is the loss of good-paying jobs and wages.”

The property tax loss won’t be a terrible blow, he said. Dielectric paid about $78,500 in property taxes last year on property valued at roughly $4.1 million, Willard said. The town’s total property valuation is “something north of a billion dollars,” he said.

Dielectric was founded in 1942 to develop transmission lines for wartime radio systems, according to the company’s website. After the war, the company expanded into building antennas used in television broadcasting, including for all three major television networks, its website claims.

Charles “Doc” Brown, the company’s founder, moved the business to his hometown of Raymond in 1954, according to its website. SPX acquired Dielectric in 2001.

The company’s television broadcast antennas have been deployed in some prominent places, including atop the World Trade Center’s North Tower, according to an article in the trade publication Broadcast Engineering. A Dielectric television broadcast antenna also tops the Empire State Building, the article claims.

While disappointed, Willard said he wasn’t shocked by the announcement.

“In the 13 years I’ve been here I’ve seen a number of reductions in workforce, layoffs and separations, and a general decline in the overall level of manufacturing there,” he said.

“SPX has decided to discontinue the broadcast television and radio and wireless antenna operations of its Dielectric Communications business unit worldwide, due to extremely difficult global economic conditions in the broadcast marketplace,” said a letter the company sent to its customers, and which was obtained by Broadcast Engineering.

Looking ahead, Willard is hopeful the town will be able to attract another manufacturing business to the facility and its 34-acre lot.

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