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Longtime RV industry supplier Atwood Mobile Products Inc. announced Friday (Nov. 7) it would move about 70 divisional office jobs to Elkhart, Ind., by the third quarter of 2004, according to the Rockford Register Star.
Additionally, 300 hourly manufacturing jobs might also be moved from Rockford, pending negotiations with union representatives.
Atwood also revealed that President Bob Pickering is retiring.
Atwood makes water heaters, cooking appliances and hardware for the RV, mass-transit and heavy-truck industries and is a division of DURA Automotive Systems, based in Rochester Hills, Mich.
The divisional office in northwest Rockford houses sales, marketing, financial and other support services. According to a statement from Atwood, the move to northern Indiana will place those services closer to “core operations and customer base” and should be completed during the July-through-September portion of next year.
Meanwhile, Atwood’s human resources department is recommending that the company close its Rockford factories to reduce excess capacity and improve productivity. However, the recommendation is preliminary pending the outcome of talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which represents Atwood’s Rockford factory workers.
The Register Star reported that many Atwood production workers assume their jobs, which pay $13 to $20 an hour, will be moved. One company official told the newspaper in May “the labor costs in Rockford are some of the highest in the country.”
However, a UAW official told the Register Star he believed Atwood’s manufacturing jobs in Rockford could be saved because the plants in the northern Illinois city were operating at higher capacity-utilization rates than the company’s factories in other areas. The UAW official said he would try to make a case for consolidating production in Rockford.
Atwood, which has two plants in Rockford, recently increased its presence in Elkhart when its parent company, DURA, bought The Creation Group, an RV window maker.
Atwood currently operates 16 manufacturing facilities in the United States and is a majority owner in a joint venture in China.