MOORESVILLE, N.C.—Tristone Flowtech Group GmbH plans to close its U.S. manufacturing plant in Mooresville by the end of June and move production of its battery and engine cooling products to the company's facility in Delicias, Mexico.
About 50 employees at the Mooresville factory will be laid off, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice sent by the firm to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
In the WARN notice, the company said it "realized the need to adjust its manufacturing operations to meet the current targets, future customer demands and better optimize its global footprint, which results in the closure." Employees at the plant have been notified.
Tristone also cited difficulties—including shutdowns of many of its plants along with the slowdown and temporary facility closures of prime customers in the automotive market—it experienced during the coronavirus pandemic as a prime reason the firm will close the plant.
Permanent closure of the Mooresville plant comes just two years after the Frankfurt, Germany-headquartered firm opened and began producing hose and other battery and cooling engine products at the factory in May 2019.
A global hose, pipe and surge tank manufacturer, the company broke ground on the new facility in May 2018 and spent about $23.6 million on a project that included investments made by the owner of the site to construct the 200,000-sq.-ft. plant, which is similar to the firm's four-year-old factory in Mexico.
About 177,605 square feet at the Mooresville site was earmarked for manufacturing and logistics and the remainder of the space was used for offices.
However, a year after it opened the facility, the company suspended production for a few weeks at the factory and its plant in Mexico due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tristone also temporarily shuttered plants in Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Slovakia and India prior to that, creating substantial unemployment across the board throughout its global network of production sites.
Despite the closing, the company insists it's not abandoning the U.S. market, according to Ignacio Salazar, president and CEO of Tristone.
It's continuing to supply products to U.S. manufacturers and has contracts with American original equipment manufacturers in both the U.S. and Mexico that are currently being handled at the company's factory in Mexico. He said the Mexican site is growing to support both Mexican and U.S. customers.
Tristone is working to help employees impacted by the closure find other jobs and is "supporting them as much as we can," Salazar said.
The company has no plans to close any other factories, he added. "Our booked business for the future in all different regions and growth rates guarantee a very robust continuity for the coming years, supported additionally by the strategic decision to pursue further growth within battery cooling applications, which is currently supporting Tristone's business plan in North America, Asia and Europe," he said.
In January, prior to the Mooresville closure announcement, the company issued a statement saying it posted record sales and new business contracts from customers in 2020, despite the pandemic.
Tristone, which is owned by Zhongding Group in China, said it had sales of about $388.9 million in 2020, up 7.7 percent from the previous year, and new business awards totaling more than $183 million. Approximately 50 percent of the total business awards were received in the battery cooling product segment.
"After a very difficult year with an average production drop of minus 22 percent in the markets where Tristone is present, our company has managed to increase the sales level versus the prior year," Salazar said at the time.