20 lose jobs as plant closes
News / Industry
By ED RONCO, www.southbendtribune.com - June 14. 2007 6:59AM

MIDDLEBURY -- Four Seasons Housing Inc. will close one of its plants, laying off 20 people and moving 18 others to different buildings.

The company, which makes manufactured and modular homes at 11333 County Road 2, in Middlebury, said it is making the move to improve efficiency.

The plant to be shut down -- called Plant 5 -- is a 65,000-square-foot building used to trim and finish mobile homes. Shutting it down will save the company about $1 million in labor costs, said Bob Dumm, president.

The 20 people to be laid off are part of a 248-person work force at Four Seasons.

A little more than a year ago, the company was expanding. In September 2005, Four Seasons built a 170,500-square-foot plant that opened in early 2006. The $4 million plant included 80 new jobs.

In 2004, the company had about $45 million in sales, and was hoping to hit $60 million in 2006, said Brent Bardo, vice president and general manager of Four Seasons, during an interview in 2005.

It didn't make that goal, said Dumm, the president, who declined to name a 2006 sales figure for the privately held company.

"That's part of the reason (for closing a plant)," he said. "The industry as a whole is pretty flat."

The other part of the reason is this: Four Seasons saw 59.2 percent growth from 2005 to 2006, Dumm said.

"We expected it to continue through 2007," he said. "It did not."

The entire industry is feeling that, said Dennis Harney, executive director of the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association.

It's especially acute in Indiana and Michigan, Harney said, which are big shipment destinations for mobile homes.

"Our sales have been depressed for probably two or three years now," he said.

Part of that is the housing market, depressed from the loss of manufacturing jobs in the two states, Harney said.

"The economy has been a challenge for us," he said. "Indiana and Michigan are leading the nation in foreclosures and bankruptcies."

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