A manufacturing company that was named the city’s Small Business of the Year in 2009 and then sold to Caterpillar will be closing by the end of the year, laying off 50 full-time and contract employees.
Caterpillar Inc. said the Santa Fe manufacturing facility at 2600 Camino Entrada will close in the next 12 months, and its engine component operations will be consolidated in Pontiac, Ill. The closure wipes out 5 percent of the county’s manufacturing jobs.
“Approximately 50 jobs in Santa Fe, which is a combination of office and production employees, will be impacted by the closure,” the company said in a statement. “The consolidation is expected to begin this year and be completed within the next 12 to 18 months.”
Jamie Fox, a corporate relations manager for Caterpillar in Peoria, Ill., said the publicly traded company would not release any additional information or make its Santa Fe manager available for an interview.
Simon Brackley of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce heard the layoffs will affect 55 workers, but he didn’t know how many of those people who live in Santa Fe and how many commute from outside the city.
“We will certainly help the laid-off employees find new jobs as best we can,” he said.
One worker at the facility said the wages there are higher than the city’s minimum and average about $13 to $15 an hour. The employees were notified of the decision Friday morning.
Caterpillar manufactures large tractors and earth-moving equipment. One of its biggest markets is China, and it sells a lot of equipment to the oil and gas industry. Both of those markets have experienced a slowdown as of late.
The global firm, based in Illinois, ended up with the Santa Fe plant after its purchase of CleanAir Systems in 2010.
The locally owned CleanAir Systems was started in 1993 by Louise and Michael Roach. It produced leading-edge catalyst products for diesel, gasoline and propane engines designed to make engine emissions safer for the environment.
After moving from a small office, the Roaches eventually occupied three buildings on Center Place, off Airport Road, before moving into the Camino Entrada facility, which was the home of a Levi Strauss jeans factory in the 1970s and then housed a Josie’s Best tortilla factory.
CleanAir had been a Caterpillar vendor, and Caterpillar said in 2010 that “CleanAir’s engineering expertise [has] seen especially strong use in retrofitting engine-powered generators, and they have application in diverse industries.”
The acquisition “is good news for the [local] economy,” Louise Roach said after the announcement in July 2010. “They [Caterpillar] have plans for expansion and hiring more employees. They’re expecting a big increase in business.”
CleanAir had 30 employees at the time of the acquisition, and Caterpillar expanded the production space in 2011.
In her remarks after the 2010 announcement, Louise Roach also said Caterpillar had agreed to keep the company in Santa Fe at least until 2020.
“I was very pleased to hear the business will continue in Santa Fe and will be growing,” Mayor David Coss said at the time. “That’s very gratifying,”
In 1990, Santa Fe County had 2,700 manufacturing jobs. That number dropped to 700 after the recession in 2010. As of December, those numbers had climbed to 900, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Contact Bruce Krasnow at email@example.com.