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Thakar Aluminum plant to close

Tom Jackson • Apr 13, 2011 at 10:58 AM

A Sandusky manufacturing plant active for more than 50 years is shutting down production at the end of this week.

Thakar Aluminum Corp., 1364 Olds St., told its workers Monday that production will end Friday, a union official said.

Court filings show Thakar is in default on millions of dollars of loans.

Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone has appointed a receiver to run Thakar for PNC Bank, which has taken over the company.

About 20 workers will be idled when production shuts down, the union official said.

"This all came down yesterday," he said Tuesday. "There was no real warning, that's for sure. I don't know if this means they are going to go out of business."

The plant's receiver has the power to sell the building, and there are indications he is trying.

"They've been touring some people through," the union official said. "They've been coming through taking pictures of everything."

A spokesman for PNC Bank said the bank cannot comment.

Thakar has two plants, a 76,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky and a smaller plant in Canton. The company melts aluminum to make billets -- long cylinders used for windows, doors, appliances and other products.

The Sandusky plant is represented by members of United Auto Workers, Local 393. The plant in Canton is nonunion and has received much of the company's new investment in recent years, the union official said.

The company's president, Susan Borgelt, declined comment Tuesday but said in an interview in October 2008 that the company has been hurt by a decline in the economy.

"Our customer base primarily services residential construction, consumer durables and transportation markets, all of which are experiencing lower levels this year," she said.

The Sandusky plant has three furnaces, but only one of them has been running. That last one will be shut down Friday, the union official said. The workers have been putting in about 32 hours a week, usually working for only three or four days a week. The plant laid off 12 workers in 2008. It has had as many as 40 people at one time.

Earlier this month, PNC obtained judgments in two lawsuits against Thakar that the company is in default for more than $5.1 million in loans made by National City, the bank PNC took over a few months ago.

PNC took over Thakar, and Tone on April 13 signed an order appointing Dennis Kebrdle of Chikol Equities as the receiver to act on the bank's behalf, empowering Kebrdle to take over all of Thakar's records, run the business and attempt to sell it. Kebrdle did not return a call asking about his plans.

The Sandusky plant has been in operation since 1951, according to the company's website. It has operated the Canton plant since 2003.

The Sandusky plant is on Olds Street, between Monroe and Venice streets.

Workers at the Sandusky plant had the day off Tuesday, the union official said. They were scheduled to come to work today, Thursday and Friday.

It used to be "an awesome company to work for," the union official said. The workers often put in overtime and earned good money, he said.

As the plant's fortunes declined, the atmosphere at the plant changed, he said.

"The company kind of did not talk to the union at all this last year," he said. "It's kind of very cold the way they treated us the last year or so."

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