BRENHAM, Texas—Wabtec Corp. is planning to close a rubber products plant in Brenham, a move that will put about 50 hourly workers out of jobs.
Longwood Elastomers filed a Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification (WARN) notice with the Texas Workforce Commission on Jan. 24 disclosing the plans for layoffs to begin April 1.
The operation is part of Pittsburgh-based Wabtec's Longwood Elastomers subsidiary, a business it purchased in 2013.
"Decisions like this are never easy, but it was made in response to changing market dynamics and an opportunity to better optimize our manufacturing footprint to improve cost competitiveness," a Wabtec spokesman told Rubber News. "Some production work in Brenham will transition to our other Longwood facility in Wytheville, Va."
The spokesman said the closure will happen in phases over the next year, with 50 employees impacted. Those workers, he said, will receive a "range of resources and benefits to assist them through this transition."
The Brenham plant originally was founded to service the oil and gas industry, and over the years the operation branched out to serve the pump and valve, industrial, extruded marine, fender and dock bumper, and food processing markets with a variety of rubber molded products, Longwood officials said when the factory was being expanded in 2017.
Wabtec said it is the "foremost rail technology company," operating a freight segment and a transit segment. Through the first nine months of 2023, the publicly held company posted net income of $608 million on revenues of $7.15 billion.
According to its website, the Wabtec Elastomers business specializes in producing rubber and thermoset components used in various rail, industrial and other transportation market applications.
Besides the Texas and Virginia locations, the website lists rubber product manufacturing sites in Pennsylvania, Spain, India and China.
In 2020, Wabtec sold one of its Durox plants in Ohio to Mechanical Rubber.