Superior to Close Kansas Wheel Plant

Aug. 20, 2008
Aluminum automotive supplier cutting workforce 29%

Aluminum automotive wheel manufacturer Superior Industries International Inc. plans to close its plant in Pittsburg, KS, in December, a move it says will affect approximately 600 managers, workers, and staffers. The company also is halting new hiring, meaning 90 open positions will not be filled, and will lay off another 65 employees. In all, the company will be cutting its U.S. workforce by 29%.

Superior stated the decisions are the result of a review of its strategic initiatives to reduce costs and balance manufacturing capacity in response to falling demand for SUV and light truck wheels.

"We believe the move towards more fuel-efficient vehicles is a permanent shift, not merely a temporary phenomenon,” chairman, CEO, and president Steven Borick stated. “The change in the light truck/passenger car mix requires adjustments to Superior's manufacturing architecture. The plant closure is necessary to eliminate excess wheel production capacity, enhance our overall efficiency, and move production to other manufacturing plants to improve our global capacity utilization."

Borick emphasized that "Superior's goal is to prosper, not just survive, as we work through one of the most challenging periods in the history of our industry.” He said that the plant closing and staff reductions will enable Superior to maintain its market position and financial flexibility “by protecting our cash-rich, debt-free balance sheet."

California-base Superior Industries supplies aluminum wheels to Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Audi, BMW, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Seat, Skoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

The closing of the Pittsburg plant will result in severance costs and related charges totaling $1.8 million over the next six months, according to Superior’s statement. It added that asset-impairment charges related to the closing have not been determined.