Caterpillar closing Pulaski plant



Despite town and county efforts to keep Caterpillar Inc. from moving its local production to Pennsylvania, it appears the company will close its Bob White Boulevard plant by mid-2014, resulting in the loss of 240 jobs.

The producer of underground mining equipment recently announced its decision to close the Pulaski plant to the Wall Street Journal. A statement from Caterpillar indicates the decision was made “with a focus on taking actions that will best position the company for long-term success.”

Local officials said they attempted to avert the closing and “will continue to assist Caterpillar in seeking any possible reconsideration” of the decision to shift production to its Houston, Pa. facility.

“Before Caterpillar announced its closing, local government officials had been in contact with the local affiliate’s leadership. We sought to avert the closing of the local facility but learned that due to market changes in the mining industry, there was nothing our local governments could do to change that decision,” states a joint press release from the offices of Pulaski Town Manager Shawn Utt and Pulaski County Administrator Peter Huber.

If the decision cannot be reversed, local officials say they will assist Caterpillar “in finding a subsequent use” of the Pulaski building.

“We want all of the employees, their families, and all those affected by this closure to know you are in our thoughts and prayers. No “explaining” of the causes of such company downsizing can take away from the hurt, defeat, and anxiety created by a corporate decision,” states the press release from local officials.

Caterpillar states that it notified its Pulaski employees Oct. 8 that it was contemplating shifting local production to another plant. “We have since conducted a strategic review of the facility and its operations, and have made the difficult decision to move forward with the closure …,” said the company’s statement.

“We value the contributions our employees have made at the Pulaski facility. However, these actions are needed to make our underground mining business more efficient and competitive, which will be achieved by consolidating production” at the Pennsylvania facility,” the statement continues.

Caterpillar already had announced plans to move production from Tazewell and Beckley, W.Va. plants to the Pennsylvania facility.

The company states that it will offer severance packages and transitional support for employees.

While negotiating with Caterpillar, local officials said they also were in contact with the Workforce Development Rapid Response Team at New River Community College, which is “closely associated with the Virginia Employment Commission.”

The press release from local officials states that the VEC “is in communication with the human resources department at the local Caterpillar plant to gather information that will allow job matching with other local industry needs, career advising, job search preparation, and the creation of educational programs as needed.”

Despite the “painful” news of Caterpillar’s closing, local officials pointed to the fact new jobs will become available in 2014 and years to come through new industries such as Red Sun Farms, Falls Stamping and Welding and Korona. They also pointed out that Phoenix Packaging is seeking machine operators.

“Pulaski County has been affected before by other shifts in the global economy,” such as textiles and furniture, states local officials. As a result, local efforts have been focused on diversifying the local industrial base.

“We are fortunate to have future projects that will build an even stronger advanced manufacturing culture. We are, furthermore, near completion of a new middle‐mile optic fiber backbone that will be available in all our industrial parks, making Pulaski County even more competitive in the knowledge economy of the future,” they state.





14 Responses to Caterpillar closing Pulaski plant

  1. Va Girl

    November 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    That’s really too, bad. Hopefully we can get another business in that building soon if CAT doesn’t continue to use it for anything at all.

  2. the truth

    November 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    wonder if the county is going to pay this company to stay here. They are good at doing this so it looks good on the supervisors. Lets just go and ask and see what the county pays some of these people to stay.

  3. totheidiotcommentingaboveme

    November 20, 2013 at 7:54 am

    This is the stupidest comment ever. The supervisors are not going to pay a company to stay here. Especially when of the receives rent from Cat. I mean think about,” thank you for all the personal rent money thousands a month but I’m going to give it all back to you. So you will stay and make us look good.” Bet you would do that. Bottom line the board cannot pay for a company to stay. Because we need a county wide dispatch system 1.5 million. And our wonderful school system would like to spend 75 million to build a new school. If your cutious what that’d going to do to your taxes give the county a call.

  4. Kay

    November 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I dont know much about the politics behind this. But my father retired from there years ago (when it was Longairdox) and my brother has spent over 20 years there and will be unemployed. Sorry to see it go, just another plant moving out of this diminishing town and creating more unemployment. Ive lived in Pulaski almost all my life. My husband and I rode down main street and lost count of all the JUNK stores. I remember having Belk, Cato, Felix and many many more. What a shame. And dont get me started on the drug situation. When I was young I went skating, bowling and to watch a movie on the weekends. Our kids have nothing here, except finding their own recreation! So thank you town of pulaski! Sorry, had to vent! If it wasnt for my home and my job Id put this town in my rear view mirror and never look back!

    • Lola

      November 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

      The town is to blame because there are no private businesses to entertain your children? Perhaps you could open a business.

      • Va Girl

        November 22, 2013 at 9:51 am

        My husband and I raised our children here and they always had something to do. Just that my idea of kids having fun isn’t sending them off with a few dollars in their pocket to get them out of my hair.

        My kids were active in girl/boy scouts, dance (the girl), horse back riding, we took them fishing/camping on weekends, they were ALWAYS running around the neighborhood playing with friends.

        As they got older they were active in marching band and drama/choir. We drove them AND their friends to the mall once a month and walked around with them and sometimes went to see a movie. My kids were NEVER EVER at a loss for something to do and were never into drugs or alcohol.

        I’m confused what’s the problem with Pulaski County? I grew up in Tampa, Florida and if you think drugs are bad HERE…you should have seen the level of drug usage when I was in high school there in the 70’s. Makes Pulaski’s drug problenm look like Disney Land.

        How you perceive the place you live makes all the difference in the world. There is a LOT to do….so long as it doesn’t pertain to spending money on making sure one is artificially entertained…..

  5. johnny

    November 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Does the closing mean, the Town of Pulaski needs to hire 10 more cousins in the road department?

  6. Susan

    November 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    what a shame for this town. Time to move upward and onward! This economy has NOT gotten better but worse in the past several years. Everyone is suffering. We need to do something and fast or this will be America soon!

    • Va Girl

      November 21, 2013 at 11:07 am

      Susan, The economy is terrible pretty much everywhere. If you want to do something we need to kick out the big spenders in Washington in the mid-term elections.

      All big companies are downsizing and consolidating. Thanks to high taxes, the socialization of healthcare which is driving the cost to employers AND individuals through the roof, and insane regulation that don’t even make environmental sense in many cases.

      Please, look at the big picture. Not just Pulaski but everywhere. I’ve read Chicago is pretty much a ghost town now in many areas……my sister in Tampa even said joblessness is a big problem. That is a city of like 3 million!

  7. Concerned citizen

    November 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Where’s the optimism? Negative thinking has never contributed to growth or development within Pulaski, and it’s still a pervasive problem.
    I think filling 10 of the largest, vacant buildings in the county within the past three years is an accomplishment, one plant closure is an opportunity for another company to come in. Our town needs forward looking, positive thinking citizens, not those that only express disdain for the area!

    Excerpt from the Roanoke Times:

    “By 2009, the textile and furniture industries that had long propped up the local economy moved overseas, Volvo Trucks scaled back and 10 of Pulaski County’s largest facilities sat empty.

    It took an unprecedented string of successes to put the county back on the right track. New industries sprouted up around town such as Korona S.A., a candle maker ; Falls Stamping and Welding Co., a Volvo supplier; and Red Sun Farms, a tomato grower.

    By September, the county didn’t have a single large vacant facility, an accolade it can no longer boast.

    “It’s just an ebb and flow of jobs in the area. I think we’re on the plus side in general though,” Hiss said.”

  8. Dan

    November 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    This is just another way to eliminate union jobs. The Houston Pa. site is non-union and pay sub-union wages. This is a win for Cat and a blow to union workers.

  9. Bessie85

    November 21, 2013 at 5:38 am

    When you look at the overall picture, it is how mining has declined over the last few years that has created this situation. I read this week that Tennessee is closing the last coal fired electric plants. If there is no mining, there is no need for mining equipment. If the company were willing to retrofit the plant and make some other type of Caterpillar equipment, such as diesel generators of road construction equipment, perhaps they could stay open. This is one time the county or town cannot be blamed. This is because of the elected officials higher up that have created a war against coal. Take time and read some of the patterns of the votes of your elected Senators and you will find where the problem actually lies.

  10. Just sad

    November 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    As someone who lost the job that I thought that I would retire from “Renfro” this is horrible. Yes, we are seeing jobs coming into the area, but are they paying what Caterpillar paid? It will be ten years since Renfro left, and I for one can say that even with a college degree, I make no where near what I made there.

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