SELLERSBURG — As Carrier employees in Indianapolis learned the jobs they thought were lost to Mexico were actually saved, employees at the Manitowoc Beverage Services Inc. plant in Sellersburg speculated that President-elect Donald Trump might keep theirs in the United States, too.
But one Sellersburg resident and Manitowoc employee of 29 years, who asked not to be named, said he didn’t think that would happen.
“If the rumors come true, that’s great,” he said. But he hasn’t gotten his hopes up.
He’s erred on the side that looks to be correct.
Rich Sheffer, the vice president of investor relations and treasury for Manitowoc Foodservice, Manitowoc Beverage Services’ parent company, confirmed that layoffs in Sellersburg are proceeding as planned: Eighty-four employees will lose their jobs in the coming months — just as the company announced in August.
The positions are being relocated to existing Manitowoc Foodservice plants in Tijuana and Monterrey, Mexico. Research and Development jobs at the Sellersbug plant will stay in the area, but the Future Drive facility will be vacated — possibly as soon as February.
Trump’s Carrier feat, which was achieved with $7 million in state tax breaks and possibly its parent company’s reliance on federal money, will not save the jobs already relocated out of the country, but some of the politician’s other policies might, said Steven Jones, a professor of finance at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
At his speech in Indianapolis Thursday, Trump spoke about lowering taxes and cutting regulations.
Those are the types of policies that will keep businesses in the country in the future, Jones said.
But he warned against the federal government becoming too involved in preventing companies from leaving the United States.
If federal tax incentives were normal, companies might threaten to leave the country just to earn them. Favoritism might also be applied to states with more powerful members of congress, Jones said.
But there is a need for change, he added.
In 2000, there were 665,000 manufacturing jobs in Indiana, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic. Now, there are 518,000, although that number is up 19 percent from 2010.
There are other reasons behind the drop besides companies moving to different countries.
Technology is replacing some manufacturing jobs, Jones said.
In Clark and Floyd counties, Wendy Dant Chesser, the President and CEO of One Southern Indiana, said she rarely hears members talk of moving overseas.
Businesses besides Manitowoc that have recently closed plants in Southern Indiana, such as General Mills and VT Industries, didn’t shift the jobs to another country.
Manitowoc itself already had factories in Mexico before its August announcement. It shifted Sellersburg’s production there due to a 20 percent excess manufacturing capacity globally, Sheffer said. (Jones pointed out that Manitowoc could have shut its Mexico factories down instead).
Just look at other areas of the state, he said. Three-hundred jobs at Rexnord in Indianapolis are being moved to Mexico, the Huntington Carrier plant’s jobs are still being relocated and employees at Manitowoc are hurting.
WorkOne just hosted its first rapid response event at the plant — an information session designed to help employees transition into new jobs. The organization will host several at the plant as employees are laid off in phases.
The unnamed Sellersburg worker hasn’t been to his yet. He was shocked when he first heard his plant was closing.
“It’s all I’ve ever known,” he said.
But he’s slowly piecing together a plan for the future. He wants to get involved in the motorcycle business. Or maybe he’ll find another manufacturing job.
“Obviously I’m going to start out as a rookie,” he said. “Rock bottom.”
He probably won’t be making $20 an hour, the approximate salary he’s earning now. He also won’t have five weeks of vacation.
It will be different.
“I’ve got a roller coaster of emotion,” he said. “I’m happy for the guys and girls at Carrier.”
“I’m very sad for us,” he said.