In House Heat Treat Department Shuts When Auto Parts Maker Closes Doors in Ohio

Back in 2020 it was announced that Bucyrus Precision Tech in Bucyrus, Ohio, USA would close their doors due to declining sales. The auto parts supplier owned by a Japanese firm found that a business case for the facility could no longer be made and the entire operation including the fairly modern heat treat department would close in 2021. That decision did come to pass and the entire facility, including the heat treat department is now being liquidated. More on this next week. 

“BUCYRUS – Bucyrus Precision Tech Inc. on Tuesday announced it will close its plant in mid-2021, eliminating more than 100 jobs. The facility manufactures automatic transmission and rear differential shafts for the automotive industry and its closing is a result of declining sales in North America, the company said in a news release Tuesday. 

The plant in the Crossroads Industrial Park employs approximately 105 people, in addition to several temporary employees. “The decision to close the BPT plant in Bucyrus was a difficult one and comes about after several years of drastically declining sales as a result of automotive technology changes,” David P. Garner, BPT’s vice president, said in the release.

“Unfortunately, our many attempts to secure new sales to allow for the continuation of operations were unsuccessful. We are extremely grateful to our associates, the Bucyrus community and the State of Ohio for their significant contributions and support to BPT over the past 25 years.” Gary Frankhouse, executive and economic development director for the Crawford Partnership, said his organization has been working with the company for 18 to 24 months.

“When decisions are made by industries — and I’m speaking to the automotive industry — they seem to be good. You know, fuel efficiency, lighter-weight cars, EV cars. Well, there’s also for every action, there’s an opposite and equal reaction, right?” Frankhouse said. “And unfortunately, the product that BPT makes, they had to shift their business model, which they’ve been able to do. However, the economics of that don’t play out the same as the traditional transmission shaft they had always made.” As part of the efforts, a representative from JobsOhio visited Japan to speak with officials at BPT’s parent company in Hamamatsu.

The product that Honda had been getting from BPT for its lightweight cars has changed, Frankhouse explained. “We were trying to figure out ways to retool to be able to provide new product and find new customers, because that’s really what is needed, is to be able to break into more of that heavy commercial automotive industry,” he said. “Unfortunately, those new customers haven’t been identified. You saw the result of that today.

“Right now, our focus needs to be on the employees, the people in Bucyrus. How do we help them and make up for that loss? Because it’s going to be an impact.” BPT was incorporated in August 1995 and started mass production in July 1997. The plant in Bucyrus is BPT’s only facility.  Bucyrus Mayor Jeff Reser said he learned of the closing Tuesday, calling it “sad news.” He pointed out that BPT was one of the first employers to open in the Crossroads Industrial Park, and has a long history in Bucyrus.

“It’s a sad day,” Reser said. “We thank them for what they did for the community; they did a lot. … We just wish them the best of luck.” Bucyrus Precision Tech intends to continue production uninterrupted until the plant closes in mid-2021 and anticipates retaining substantially all of its associates until that time, the release stated. “BPT is committed to working closely with our associates during this difficult time and will be providing support, including retention benefits, to associates during the wind down of operations over the next several months,” Garner said.

“I think the facility and people that are in it are tremendous assets in our county, and in this area,” Frankhouse said. “That facility can be a tremendous resource to someone. I’m trying to be as optimistic as I can, but I’m being a realist, too: There’s bad news today. But we’re going to do everything in our power to help those associates and the management team out there land on their feet.”

“The good new is the local economy is really solid,” Reser said. “Hopefully, those people… will be able to step into jobs. I think just about everybody in Bucyrus is hiring right now and looking for people. That’s the good news. We hate to see them close, but fortunately those people will be needed in other positions in the community, so they shouldn’t have to move.”

Frankhouse said he met with Garner on Tuesday morning to discuss the possibility of finding a company that might be interested in acquiring BPT. The company has a great process, a modern facility built in the late ’90s, a good location and a good work force, he pointed out. “I am optimistic,” Frankhouse said. “You know, sometimes things work for good when you don’t even realize it, and you definitely wouldn’t realize it right now. This is not good news. But I think we’ve got to turn it into good news. That’s my objective right now.”

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