Largest Employer In Cameron County Announces It Will Shut Down Operations
American Axel, the largest employer in Cameron County, announced last week that it will shut down operations at its manufacturing plant in Emporium. The Detroit-based auto manufacturer’s unexpected decision is putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
American Axel bought the GKN Sinter Metals factory in May. Cameron County Commissioner Ann Losey said the workforce of about 350 employees had high hopes for a smooth transition.
“When they took the plant over, there was a press release from American Axel in May of 2021, stating they wanted to keep and grow the operation,” Losey said. “And here we are in July, and they’re closing. It’s a shock to everyone.”
Losey said, just a few weeks ahead of the announcement, workers learned that the company did not purchase the building, only the equipment and orders.
“That should’ve been a red flag that they were not gonna stay,” said Cameron County Chamber of Commerce Director Tina Solak.
American Axel said operations will be shut down in the next 12 to 18 months. It promised workers they would be offered positions at other facilities, but didn’t say whether it would be the two locations in neighboring Elk County, or elsewhere at one of its 31 other facilities in the U.S.
Solak said it’s bad news for the county, which has about 4,000 residents. She said workers, who were “blindsided,” are scrambling to get more information in face of the sudden announcement, including why it’s taking place.
“They’re not saying it’s [because of an] economic downturn,” she said. “With the onset of electric vehicles, the amount of powdered metal parts in an electric vehicle is drastically reduced from a combustible engine. They’re not saying that that is the reason why.”
“It’s going to have a trickle down effect, because we have quite a few secondary companies that would be working with American Axel,” Cameron County Commissioner Lori Reed said. “That’s going to demonstrate quite a hit for those smaller companies.”
American Axel has not returned a request for comment.
County Commissioners said they’re working with the Governor’s office and legislators to provide support to workers and to work with other manufacturers in the county for ways to absorb the potential economic blow.