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Hudson plant closes, 63 jobs will be lost

The 63 workers who will lose their jobs when Duro Bag Manufacturing Company closes its Hudson plant may apply for positions at other Duro plants in the U.S.

But Tim Young, the parent company's vice president of human services, admitted Thursday that moving won't be a workable alternative for all the Hudson employees. He said Duro will offer other assistance for those who don't want to or can't move.

"We know that relocation is not appropriate for everybody," said Young, "so we are also working with representatives from the state of Wisconsin and outside professional consultants to provide job search assistance to those who are not interested in transfer."

He said Duro is encouraging workers to consider a transfer and will provide relocation assistance to those who choose to move. The company is offering severance, benefit continuation and other assistance to those who stay in the Hudson area.

Young informed the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development of the plant closing in an e-mail dated Monday and confirmed details when he returned to company headquarters Thursday morning.

Young said Kentucky-based Duro is "consolidating its manufacturing operations resulting in the closing of our Hudson (plant)." He said the plan is to close the Hudson facility, which was opened in 1976, Oct. 22. Employees were told of the decision Monday.

The current Hudson manager is Paul Frye, a 1975 Hudson High School graduate. He took over the position on 1988 when Will Savadge retired after eight years. The only other manager was Larry Ramm who managed the local plant from 1976 to 1980.

Just three weeks ago, Duro announced it will expand capacity at its Florence, Ky., plant and add about 130 jobs in the next few years, according to the Business Courier of Cincinnati.

Duro will invest up to $2.5 million in new production and packaging equipment and building improvements at the Florence location. The state of Kentucky gave preliminary approval for up to $1 million in tax incentives over 10 years. The incentives are tied to the creation of the new jobs.

Duro plans to sell the Hudson building and property.

Young said most of the Hudson workers will "complete their assignments" on Oct. 22, but some may work beyond that date.

Employees who don't relocate are being offered severance pay based on years of service, company contribution to continued health care benefits under COBRA and job search assistance.

The jobs being eliminated include the plant manager, supervisors, 20 "bag catchers" and other manufacturing positions.

The Hudson plant currently has about 160,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space. St. Croix County land records indicate Duro Standard Products owns four parcels, totaling just over 70 acres, in the town of Hudson.

Assessed parcels include land valued at $442,800 and improvements totaling $25,404,000. Last year the company paid $36,801 on the various parcels.

Duro, headquartered in Florence, Ky., manufactures paper bags for department store, grocery chains and mass merchant retailers in North America.

Its divisions produce grocery bags and sacks; handle, merchandise, paper, lawn, and leaf bags; various specialty bags for lunch, pharmacy, liquor, bread and food service; and machine-made "designer" shopping bags.

The company was founded in 1953 by S. David Shor and is still privately owned by the Shor family, according to the company's website.

The website says the company has over 2,500 employees working at 12 manufacturing facilities.

Apart from the Hudson and Florence facilities, Duro has plants in Walton, Ky.; Alsip, Ill.; Progreso, Texas; Richmond, Va.; Jackson, Tenn.; Covington, Ky.; Brownsville, Texas; Elizabeth, N.J.; Tollseon, Ariz.; and Yulee, Fla.

The Hudson Star Observer is owned by Forum Communications, also the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin.