‘It’s a lot of hurt,’ 648 employees impacted by Kettering Tenneco plant closure

KETTERING — Tenneco has announced its intention to close the shock absorber manufacturing facility on Woodman Drive, a move that will impact 648 employees at the location.

The announcement was made to team members at the plant this morning, said Steven Blow, executive director of corporate communications at Tenneco.

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“This is a great team in Kettering and we recognize the impact this action will have on our team members. We will work to provide transition assistance for all affected team members, including some opportunities to transfer to other Tenneco locations,” Blow said. “The Company and Union will be meeting in the coming weeks to bargain on these topics.”

“This difficult decision is part of the company’s need to realign its manufacturing footprint to respond to changing market conditions and capacity requirements,” Blow said.

The Kettering plant is expected to be completely close before the end of 2023.

“We are in contract negotiations right now. So we didn’t know that they were going to announce any of this,” said employee Tyra Williams. “It’s kind of hard. It’s a lot of hurt.”

Tenneco is a manufacturer and marketer of automotive products for original equipment and aftermarket customers. Some of its customers include Advance Auto Parts, BMW, Ford, GM and Toyota.

Union leaders for IUE-CWA, which represents Tenneco workers in Kettering, said the company intends to move over 500 Dayton-area jobs to Mexico and China, citing savings by moving the jobs out of the country.

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Last week, during Tenneco’s third quarter report, the company’s CEO Brian Kesseler announced the company was planning “additional cost reduction actions.”

“Building upon our Accelerate+ structural cost savings program, we are initiating additional cost reduction actions to better flex our capacity to align with the current market conditions, which we expect will carry into 2022,” said Kesseler. “Tenneco’s mid and long-term prospects remain strong as we continue our disciplined focus on cost reduction, cash generation and investment in our strategic growth drivers. We are well positioned to benefit from the eventual recovery of light vehicle production volumes.”

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Union leaders said many of the over 500 workers at the plant have put in decades of service dating back to when the plant was owned by Delphi.

“I am in disbelief that Tenneco would put over 500 people out of work like this. I have worked at this plant for over 13 years, and I have shown up to do my job and been a good worker,” said Tenneco worker Stacey Dunlap. “I am a single mom with a son to take care of. If Tenneco closes the plant, it will be devastating for my family.”

While disappointed by today’s announcement, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Kershner said he’s not concerned about the workers at the plant being able to find new work.

“We have businesses that are hungry for skilled and talented workers that we would be more than happy to help make connections for these workers to a number of businesses in the Dayton-area that are looking for this talent right now,” Kershner said.

Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said the city was notified this morning by Tenneco of the plans for the closure.

“Immediately with this announcement our concerns are with the family and employees of Tenneco,” Schwieterman said. “We are encouraged that it is a wind down. It’s not an immediate closure.”

The impact on the city will also be felt with tax revenue the plant generates for the city.

“The immediate impact is obviously a significant impact with this closure,” Schwieterman said. “They are a major taxpayer in the community and occupy a major industrial site in our community.”

While it’s too early to say what the property will be used for, Schwieterman said the city will transition to looking for possible redevelopment opportunities for the site that could bring jobs back to the community.