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Masonite to shut its doors

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Company purchased LEDCO in 2010

By Todd Martin

Masonite Inc. has told employees that it will be closing its Shelbyville plant early next year.

The company has manufactured residential and commercial doors in Shelbyville since purchasing the Shelbyville-based LEDCO in 2010. About 80 are employed in its facility at 801 Commerce Circle in Shelbyville.

Plant General Manager Joseph Solomon, whose family started the company in Akron in 1964, said he could not answer questions about the facility’s closing, instead directing all requests to Masonite’s corporate offices.

Several sources confirmed the closing of the company’s Shelbyville plant and late Tuesday afternoon, Joanna Zirbes, the office manager and executive assistant to President and CEO Fred Lynch, responded with the company’s official statement.

“Masonite announced that it will permanently close the interior door manufacturing facility in Shelbyville, Kentucky,” Zirbes wrote in an Email. “The plant will cease operation effective January 28, 2013. The decision to close this facility was made after thoroughly reviewing all alternatives. Despite the dedication of everyone, business conditions required this action to match capacity with demand.Employees impacted by the plant closure will be eligible for severance, extended benefits and outplacement assistance.”

Bobby Hudson, president of the Shelby County Industrial & Development Foundation, said he had heard that the company lost a large contract but couldn’t confirm those details.

“There are some people out there that have been there since it opened out here, about thirty years,” he said.

Although the company is closing this manufacturing center, citing that it needs to match capacity with demand, it doesn’t appear that Masonite Inc. is struggling.

The international company, based in Tampa, Fla., has been preparing to expand, according to a story published late last month in the Tampa Business Journal. Masonite President and CEO Fred Lynch told the publication that “the U.S. housing market is improving. It’s likely at the early stages of a sustained multiyear recovery.”

And according to financial reports for investors listed on the privately held company’s Web site, the company had revenue of $1.7 billion and third-quarter net sales increased 13 percent.

The company also had purchased three other door companies this year – St. Ephrem, Canada-based Baillargeon in March, Wisconsin-based Algoma Hardwoods in April and Quebec-based Lemieux Doors in August – further expanding its footprint.

However, Masonite had also been slowly contracting some of its operations, including closing its European office in Vienna, Austria, which it had just opened in 2010, according to the company’s balanced set of strategies to maximize value in the 3rd Quarter Earnings Presentation. That strategy also included closing a manufacturing facility in Greensboro, N.C.

But despite the closing of a long-time Shelbyville facility, Hudson said he believes the strength of Shelby County’s economy can withstand this blow.

“Hopefully we can find jobs for all these people, and I think we can,” he said.

Shelby County had the state’s third-best unemployment rate for October, checking in at 6.2 percent, and has added several hundred jobs this year.