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Automotive Supplier ZF Lemforder Plans to Close Duncan, S.C., Plant

Automotive supplier ZF Lemforder will close one of its two Duncan, SC, plants within two years and will lay off an unspecified number of employees, officials confirmed last week. Frank Buscemi, public affairs director with ZF Group North America, said the company’s components plant would be closed by the end of 2005 because it cannot fill demand and cannot be expanded.

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From Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.

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DUNCAN, SC — Automotive supplier ZF Lemforder will close one of its two Duncan, SC, plants within two years and will lay off an unspecified number of employees, officials confirmed last week.

Frank Buscemi, public affairs director with ZF Group North America, said the company’s components plant would be closed by the end of 2005 because it cannot fill demand and cannot be expanded.

Lemforder, which has had to lease warehouse space, will move most of its components manufacturing for Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and others out of the Hillside Industrial Park off Highway 290 to a plant in Michigan that can be expanded to fill customer demand.

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In addition to needing more space, Buscemi said the upstate job market has been too competitive for the company, with highly skilled labor having many options for employment — from BMW and many of its suppliers to other manufacturers.

“It’s the competitiveness of the area, with employees and space,” he said.

Buscemi could not say how many of the company’s 405 employees would lose their jobs when the company closes the facility. “It will happen slowly,” Buscemi said. “It is a long-term process.”

The other facility, a newer facility in the same business park that makes suspension systems for BMW Z4s and X5s made at the BMW Manufacturing Corp.’s Greer plant, will continue operations for the time being and will have some components work added to it.

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While Buscemi said he is unsure what will happen at the facility once the current contracts run out, he said BMW is Lemforder’s No. 2 customer (behind Ford) and will continue to manufacture parts for the German automaker worldwide.

Lemforder has been consolidating other operations across the country, recently moving axle drive production from a plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to a plant in Gainesville, Ga.

Copyright 2004 Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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