Flexsteel Industries Inc. will close its Elkhart, Ind., vehicle seat manufacturing plant next month and consolidate its Indiana vehicle seating production in its plant in nearby New Paris, Ind.

The Elkhart plant will permanently close around Dec. 20 and 84 employees will be impacted by the consolidation, including 32 people who were laid-off earlier.

Flexsteel, based in Dubuque, Iowa, will incur about $640,000 in net restructuring costs and potential asset impairments as a result of the consolidation, according to the company.

The consolidation is necessary due to “continued poor conditions in the vehicle seating industries, especially for van conversions and travel trailers, which are the primary products of the Elkhart plant,” said Bruce Lauritsen, president and CEO of Flexsteel.

Because Elkhart production will be shifted to the New Paris facility, Flexsteel customers “will notice no difference in scheduled shipments,” Lauritsen said.

During the next six months, Lauritsen believes Elkhart plant workers will be offered positions at the New Paris plant “as products are transferred from Elkhart and demand for vehicle seating products increases in the spring of 2002.”

Some Elkhart plant administrative personnel will be offered jobs in New Paris, he added.

The New Paris plant is more efficient because it is larger and it has metal seat frame assembly capabilities, according to the company.