Southeastern Container (SEC) announced today that it is closing its Beloit plant in May. Doug Wehrkamp, president of SEC, sited over-capacity production as the reason for the closure.
Wehrkamp said advances in technology has allowed SEC customers to use on-site machines to meet their demand, changing the company’s manufacturing footprint and causing over-production in all SEC plants.
The company opened in 2007 north of the Gateway Business Park, at 1630 Apex Drive.
Operations will transfer to the Bowling Green, Ohio or Effingham, Ill. plants between April 29 and May 12. In a letter to employees the company said about 10 openings were available in Effingham and eight openings in Bowling Green. Layoffs will begin starting on April 29, according to the letter.
Beloit City Manager Larry Arft said the city was notified this morning of the decision to close the plant. However, the city knew SEC was working on consolidating its operations in Effingham, and was working with the company for a few months offering incentives to keep the Beloit plant open, Arft said.
“We’re obviously very disappointed to hear this,” he said. “We’ll be working closely with the company and try to get another use for this facility as quickly as possible.”
Arft said the city was surprised to receive the news due to the fact that the Beloit plant is newer and still in excellent condition.
Andrew Janke, executive director for the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, said the plant employs about 52 workers.
The city offered to increase property tax rebates from $60,000 to $150,000 per year as well as add two years onto the agreement to run through 2021, Janke said. Talks about the consolidation started in early December, and SEC said if the plant were to stay open it would have added about 12 positions, Janke said.
In the letter to employees, SEC said workers who do not transfer to the other plants will receive two weeks severance pay for every year they have worked with the company, with a minimum of eight weeks pay.
The 244,000-square-foot plant is mainly responsible for creating plastic bottles for water and soft drinks. When the company opened the Beloit plant it took all of the Effingham customers in the northern region.
SEC has a contract with Coca-Cola and makes bottles between 8 ounces and 2 liters. The plant has three machines that work continuously in 12-hour shifts. One machine makes about 40,000 bottles per hour.
The plant ships products to Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Bismarck, N.D., Rapid City, S.D. and Sioux City, Iowa. The plant had the capacity to increase to 700,000 square-feet and add 85 jobs.
The company is headquartered in Enka, N.C. and is privately owned.
Calls to Southeastern Container General Manage in Beloit Bill Bock were not returned this morning before deadline.