Southwire to close Waukegan factory;  'All 135 employees will be able to find meaningful work in this environment'

An $8 billion global electrical goods maker employing 135 people in Waukegan will close its local factory starting Dec. 16 as part of a long-term strategy aimed at efficiency and customer service.

Southwire, a privately owned and family-controlled maker of electrical products, announced Wednesday at its Georgia headquarters that it plans to close its Waukegan manufacturing plant as part of an overall long-term company focus.

Rebecca Cranford, Southwire’s senior vice president of manufacturing, said in an email Thursday that the decision was not a “reflection on people” or the quality or performance of the local plant.

“As we move forward with our long-term strategy, we must ensure that we are properly aligned to make the best use of our facilities and better meet the needs of our customers,” he wrote. “The decision (no) is one that we take lightly.”

The company said in a news release Wednesday that affected workers will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at the company. Those who do not want to move to another facility will be offered severance benefits and relocation assistance.

Along with its Waukegan factory, a company spokesman said Southwire operates a sales and support office in Lincolnshire, as well as a plant in Carol Stream that makes tools, components and other items.

Kevin Considine, president and CEO of Lake County Partners, said he will be sorry Southwire is leaving Waukegan, but added that those who are out of work will be in a good environment to look for work.

“All 135 employees will be able to find meaningful work in this environment,” Considine said. “Manufacturing growth is very rapid in Lake County. We are well beyond the pre-pandemic level and continue to grow.”

Rich Stinson, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement that Southwire will make an effort to ensure the next few months go smoothly as the change unfolds. He also said that closing the factory was not a sudden decision.

“We will ensure that those affected are treated with dignity and respect during this transition,” he said. “These kinds of decisions are never easy, and I want to thank our employees in Waukegan for their years of service and contributions to Southwire.”

After the company closes its Waukegan facility, it said in the email that the pigtail, tray cable and cord sets will be manufactured at other Southwire facilities. The company has more than 8,500 workers worldwide.

Among the products that Southwire and its subsidiaries manufacture at other facilities are construction wire and cable, utility products, metal-clad cables, portable and electronic cable products and engineering products, the company said in the email.

The company also said it supplies assembled products, contractor equipment, electrical components, hand tools, and lighting and power solutions for the workplace, along with a variety of field services and support to customers around the world.

Southwire started in Waukegan in 2014 when it acquired Coleman Cable and began operating local facilities, the company said. It generated revenue of $8 billion in 2021 across all of its operations.

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