Originally created 03/01/06

Auto parts facility to close



Warren County will lose 105 jobs when Wheland Foundry LLC, a maker of brake parts for the automotive industry, closes later this month.

"They just needed more volume of business," Warren County Commission Chairman John Graham said.

Owners of the 135,000-square-foot facility at 975 Thomson Highway in Warrenton announced the closure in a letter sent to the county, Mr. Graham said.

"It's going to be hurt to us," he said. "Not only on the tax side, but also with the loss of jobs and people not putting money back into the community. It will be a domino effect."

According to the letter dated Feb. 24, the shutdown would occur gradually over five weeks.

The Livingston Co., a Chattanooga, Tenn.-based investment group, purchased the foundry in 2003, two years after Wheland Automotive Industries filed Chapter 11 and moved out of the facility.

Wheland Automotive Industries produced similar products and operated the foundry since 1995. Slumping auto sales contributed to its 2001 bankruptcy.

Mr. Graham said the state of the automotive industry "played a part in things," with the most recent closure.

A spokesman for the Livingston Co. declined comment Tuesday.

The commission chairman said he hopes to help the company fill the vacancy.

"We're hoping to turnaround and get some good news," Mr. Graham said.

Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or tony.lombardo@augustachronicle.com.