Grumman selling plant on Shore

March 23, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

Grumman Corp. is scheduled to announce today the sale of its aircraft cable production plant in Salisbury, a move that could save most, if not all, of the approximately 240 jobs at the 9-year-old complex.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer will join with Grumman, Salisbury and Wicomico County officials at a news conference this morning in making an announcement that one Salisbury official said "should be a very happy day for this city."

Grumman announced in May that it would close the Salisbury plant, eliminating 244 jobs by the end of 1994.

Yesterday, state and county officials declined to talk about today's announcement, but Norine Lyons, director of corporate communications at Grumman's headquarters in Bethpage, N.Y., confirmed that the Salisbury plant would be sold.

The bidding war between Martin Marietta and Northrop Corp. apparently will not interfere with the sale of the Eastern Shore factory. Ms. Lyons said "both parties knew that the plant was being closed."

Paul F. Causey Jr., general manager of Grumman's machining plant in Glen Arm, said that he had been notified through in-house communication that Grumman's board of directors had approved the sale of the Salisbury plant to an unidentified buyer.

It was not clear yesterday if the plant would continue producing aircraft cables or move into a new line of business.

The Salisbury plant opened with great fanfare in 1985 in a former garment factory. Projecting that it would eventually employ up to 1,000 workers, state officials compared it at the time to landing the General Motors' Saturn project, another economic development gem the state had pursued. GM later selected a site in Spring Hill, Tenn., for the Saturn plant.

Grumman never came close to providing 1,000 jobs at the plant, but reached nearly 550 at its peak in 1990. Layoffs in recent years trimmed the work force to its current level.

Edward W. Urban, manager of the Salisbury plant, said in an interview in May, when Grumman announced it would close the complex, that most jobs at the plant paid between $11 and $12 an hour.

The Salisbury workers had their hopes raised in November when Renso L. Caporali, Grumman's chairman and chief executive, said that the plant was one of the most efficient within the company and that corporate officials were rethinking the decision to shut it down.

But in January, the company said it had decided to go with its earlier decision to close the Salisbury plant, as well as its machining plant in Glen Arm, if it could not find buyers for the factories. Grumman has not announced that it has found a buyer for the Glen Arm plant, which employs about 100 workers.

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