Hanover hit hard by Robertshaw plant closing

More than 100 jobs lost; operations moving to Mexico

HANOVER – Robertshaw Industrial Products, formerly Invensys Controls, is closing two manufacturing plants, one in Hanover and the other in West Plains, Missouri, and moving them to Mexico. About 500 jobs will be lost.

More than 100 workers will lose their jobs when the Hanover plant, which makes water valves for a variety of systems, including clothes washing, refrigeration and dishwashing, closes in September and moves to Matamoros, Mexico. Hanover has a population of about 840.

More than 400 jobs will be lost when the Missouri plant closes in March 2016, Robertshaw said in a statement. That factory makes gas valves and related gas products for the cooking and heating markets; it will be moved to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

Both plants make products for companies such as GE, Samsung, Electrolux, and Whirlpool. 

Lisa McCarthy, director of Tri-County Economic Development Alliance, said she was contacted by the company Oct. 1 and told to cancel tours set for National Manufacturing Day. She was not told the reason for the cancellation, but received a call notifying TCEDA of the plant closing the next day.

The company cited the reason for the plant closures as part of its initiatives to optimize its manufacturing footprint, leverage its investments and enhance its competitiveness. 

“TCEDA, upon learning that Hanover Mayor Don Schaible had been contacted and the press release from Robertshaw was sent out, asked if the plant could be bought by the employees,” McCarthy said. “I was told that that wasn’t an option, and that the plant would be closed by September 2015. I contacted the mayor to offer support and offer to coordinate on resources.”

TCEDA is an economic development alliance covering the tri-county region of Northwest Illinois that includes Jo Daviess, Carroll, and a portion of Whiteside County.

McCarthy immediately contacted the offices of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, state Sen. Tim Bivins and state Rep. Brian Stewart, then contacted state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to arrange support. 

“I quickly met with our local workforce development representative, who outlined the process of support with BEST Inc. and their workforce partners. A special TCEDA board meeting was called on Oct. 8, 6 days after the announcement,” McCarthy said. 

“I contacted investors to see if there would be interest in buying the plant and could find none. I met with the TCEDA board to discuss how we could assist with the outline described by BEST Inc. and provided informative, printed materials at the meeting. I emailed other manufacturers to gauge interest in hiring some of the former employees.” 

McCarthy provided Schaible a resource for in-plant education on healthcare resources for employees at no cost, and a resource for building development if needed. She then contacted an economic development professional in another state who had a plant closing to learn about available resources and the process they went through. She also found additional resources for employees who jobs are off-shored and discussed the potential with the DCEO.

“TCEDA offered to organize a job fair with the village of Hanover for employees with other business in our region, and we have found sponsors,” McCarthy said. “And I have kept in constant contact and continue to assist Mayor Schaible.

“Rep. Bustos called to offer support to the employees and the village of Hanover via the ‘Rapid Response’ team of workforce development professionals from the federal and state governments. The purpose is to assist employees through informative sessions on unemployment, training, education and career development,” she said.

Melissa Miller is the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline.

“Like her constituents, she is devastated by Robertshaw’s news,” Miller said.

“We learned of the news before it was announced. After confirming the decision with them, Robertshaw wouldn’t even entertain incentives for the company to stay. They were asked to reconsider, but quickly made clear it was a ‘done deal.’”

Bustos’ office continues to work with state and local leaders to “ensure the workers come first as we look to devise short- and long-term solutions for them and our community,” Miller said.

Invensys bought the plant in 1997; it has operated under the name Robertshaw since June.

Robertshaw is a leading global provider of components, systems, and services used in the appliance, heating, air conditioning, commercial cooking/refrigeration, and residential thermostat products. Robertshaw has more than 5,840 employees and 23 locations worldwide. It’s based in Maryville, Tennessee.