New Kennametal plant owner unsure how many workers will remain

The new owner of the former Kennametal plant in Evans is unsure how many workers will be retained after Aug. 30.

Kennametal filed a mass layoff notice with Georgia saying 153 people will be laid off after that date, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be unemployed.

Dale Erkkila, a vice president with Top-Eastern Drill Co., said today that some of those employees will be hired by his company after an ownership transition period ends.

“As part of our agreement with Top-Eastern, Kennametal agreed to maintain approximately 150 selected Evans facility employees on a leased basis to Top-Eastern as they determine the best strategy for integration of the business moving forward,” said Christina Reitano, a Kennametal corporate communications manager.

Mr. Erkkila said his company is “in the process of judging people’s interest in staying on and seeing how much of the production we want to keep doing in Evans.”

“It would just be irresponsible for me to try to predict a number. I think there’s a chance a fair amount could either come into our company or perhaps there may be some type of contract work,” he said.

The name of the plant at 470 Old Evans Road has changed to Greenfield Industries Inc. The division of Top-Eastern Drill already employs 135 people, Mr. Erkkila said, though most of those workers are in Clemson, S.C., a plant also purchased last month from Kennametal.

Top-Eastern Drill paid $29 million to acquire a Kennametal drill line and the rights to production facilities in Clemson, Evans, Mexico City; and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Erkkila said Top-Eastern Drill “does not want to shut down production in Evans” and the company is trying to make the plant profitable. He said, however, that the company is moving some production in Evans to Clemson to improve efficiency.

“There probably will be layoffs, not a significant amount, but we’re trying to make efficiencies. Some things will move up to Clemson, and some of those (Evans) employees will probably come up to Clemson also,” Mr. Erkkila said.

“There’s lot of great people here. We like them a lot, so we’re going to do what we can. We have every plan to keep continuing on and keep as many people employed as financially makes sense. It’s a very talented, very experienced workforce. It’s one of the reasons our company was interested,” he said.

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