Grumman will close Glen Arm plant

September 02, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

The declining defense budget has claimed another victim.

Grumman Corp. announced yesterday that it will close its aircraft machining plant in Glen Arm by the end of the year and lay off 54 workers -- the last of a work force that numbered nearly 300 a few years back.

The closing of the Grumman plant did not come as a surprise. Grumman said last year that it would either sell the Glen Arm facility or close it as part of a continuing company consolidation. Grumman has since been acquired by Northrop Corp. in a deal valued at $2.17 billion.

Opened in 1967, the Glen Arm complex consists of two buildings totaling 380,000 square feet and straddling Long Green Pike in Baltimore County.

In its heyday, workers made parts for the F-14 Tomcat -- best known for its role in the 1986 box office hit "Top Gun" -- as well as the Boeing 767 and 777 jetliners, the Grumman E2-C (a carrier-based radar plane) and the space shuttle.

But since the late 1980s, the plant has been in doubt. That was when the Pentagon first proposed halting production of the twin-engine jet fighter after a production run of about 600 planes.

"I don't see how this plant could continue to function if they stop making the F-14," Paul F. Causey, general manager of the Glen Arm plant said in 1989, noting that the jet accounted for more than half the Glen Arm plant's production.

"We lose this and our overhead goes out of sight. I don't see how we could survive."

The Navy eventually ended F-14 production and the company warned that there was not enough business to justify operating the Glen Arm plant at well below 50 percent capacity.

Susan Vassallo, a company spokeswoman, said the company still hopes to sell the plant and equipment as an operating machine shop.

If this is not successful, Ms. Vassallo said, the company would liquidate the equipment and buildings.

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