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Sikeston plant set to close

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

SIKESTON -- A Sikeston plant which produces manufactured and systems-

built modular housing will close beginning Sept. 19 resulting in the loss of 76 jobs.

"It is with deep regret that we announce the upcoming closing of Heritage American Homes in Sikeston, Mo.," wrote Susan J. Richmond, vice president of administration and human resources at Patriot Homes' corporate office in Elkhart, Ind., in a letter sent to Sikeston's mayor dated July 21.

Heritage American Homes, a division of Patriot Manufacturing Inc., is located at 821 W. Wakefield Ave. Its facility opened here in the fall of 1997.

The plant's employees were also notified on July 21.

"Heritage has been a valued member of the Patriot Homes family since January of 1997. Unfortunately, despite a wonderful, dedicated staff, improvements in production efficiency, and everyone's utmost efforts, the market in this area simply could not support our Heritage line," Richmond wrote. "Sadly, and in the best interests of our company as a whole, we have no choice but to close this location."

"The company is consolidating," said Al Glaes, general manager for Patriot Homes Inc.'s Heritage American Homes Division in Sikeston, when initially contacted for comment on his plant's closing.

Glaes then declined to comment further after forwarding the letter from Richmond.

"We hate to see anybody have to close and leave our community. It's a sad day for Heritage American Homes to have to leave Sikeston," said Ed Dust, director of the Sikeston Department of Economic Development. "We will do everything in our power to find someone to replace them in our community and will begin aggressively marketing their building as soon as possible."

Richmond's letter to the mayor is required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988.

Enacted on Aug. 4, 1988, the WARN Act became effective on Feb. 4, 1989. It requires any employer with more than 100 employees to give workers, their families and the community 60 days advance notice of any plant closing or mass layoff.

"The Heritage American Homes facility will be permanently closed. This closing will affect the entire division," Richmond wrote.

The letter advised the expected date for the plant's closing to begin is Sept. 19.

"We anticipate that production will begin tapering off following this date. We anticipate that most employee separation will occur from September 19, 2006, through October 3, 2006, with a few remaining positions being eliminated later in October as we clean up the facility and prepare it for final closure," Richmond wrote. "We will notify you of any changes to this schedule."

A total of 76 employees will be affected, according to the letter, in the following positions: six administration; one maintenance; two management; 47 production; three plant supervision; two quality control; two receiving; three sales; three service and seven unskilled.

"While the closing of any of our facilities is painful, the decisions we make are a part of doing business, and are made for the overall well being of Patriot Homes. We are deeply saddened by the closing of Heritage American Homes, especially because of the impact this will have on our employees," Richmond wrote.

In September 2005, the company was awarded a large Federal Emergency Management Agency contract to help produce temporary housing for disaster victims.

The Sikeston facility added around 35 jobs to help it build approximately 150 of the 840-square-foot, all-electric homes for FEMA.