W.C. Wood Company announced Monday they were closing their doors they could not find a buyer for the plant.
W.C. Wood Company announced Monday they were closing their doors they could not find a buyer for the plant.
By Sara Bailey

Staff Writer

OTTAWA - Just when W.C. Wood employees thought they were facing brighter days ahead, they received word Monday that their place of employment will be closing its doors for good.

As reported last week, W.C. Wood Company of Ottawa-a plant that specialized in making freezers and other appliances-was to be purchased by One Rock Company Friday, Nov. 13, if the buyer could meet certain conditions set forth in a court document, said W.C. Wood Representative Dale Rampe last week.

However, the buyer failed to meet the purchase deadline, as One Rock could not come up with the $500,000 deposit by last Friday. This, in turn, sent W.C. Wood of Ottawa into liquidation.

W.C. Wood Company representatives declined comment on this matter.

"According to the court order, the asset purchase agreement shall be firm, all conditions satisfied or waived, and the deposit shall be received by the court appointed monitor by Nov. 13 at noon," said Village of Ottawa Economic Development Director Jeff Loehrke. "With that being said, it appears to me that One Rock was unable to meet those conditions; therefore, the court had no other choice but to place the company into receivership, which they did on Monday."

Our biggest concern right now is that the employees get all the benefits that they are entitled to," said Loehrke. "It appears this closing is different than the closing of LG Phillips back in 2002, and we are working closely now with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Putnam County office to make surethe employees get the benefits they deserve."

While this plant closing will represent an approximate 10 percent hit to the Village's annual income tax, it should not affect the way Ottawa provides services to the community, Loehrke added.

So where does Ottawa go from here?

"We will take advantage of every program that is available to us through the Ohio Department of Development, such as applying for Situational Distress Status," said Loehrke. "This opens up additional funding programs through the state because of a loss of jobs. We will also be investigating Economic Development Administration Funding as we did when LG Phillips closed back in 2002. That resulted in a $1.725 million grant which assisted us in building the ESC Skilled Learning Center."

He added that the Village will also actively market the now empty 500,000 square foot facility through the Ohio Department of Development as well as the Village's Web site.

At a meeting Tuesday morning, Putnam County Commissioners expressed concern about the closing of the plant.

"It is sad. There were so many good people that worked there, and it's a fairly new facility. It happened so fast, just last year they were one of our largest employers," said Commissioner Vincent Schroeder. "We knew there were changes over there with the sale, but we, and I'm speaking for the commissioners, we were still optimistic that more jobs were coming. Unfortunately, it did not go through like that. As sad as it is, it leaves an opportunity for someone else."

"It was a horrible shock," said Commissioner Travis Jerwers. "My first thoughts were for the hundreds of workers. We need to press on."

The news also came as a shock to many W.C. Wood Company employees, as they were informed two weeks ago that the future looked promising with the recent asset purchase agreement.

Because many employees were affected by the company's closing, Job and Family Services of Putnam County hope to have dates and times confirmed for Rapid Response Sessions in the near future.

"We're putting together Rapid Response Sessions that will inform the W.C. Wood employees of the services that are available for dislocated workers," said Putnam County Job and Family Services Program Administrator Suzy Wischmeyer. "We just want to do whatever we can to help them."

More information regarding Rapid Response Sessions will be featured in next week's edition of the Putnam County Sentinel.

• In February of 1990, W.C. Wood Company opened in Ottawa. The company filed for a Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection in Canada on May 19 of this year. In June, the factory received a Chapter 15 protection in the United States to follow Canadian courts' guidelines.

According to published reports, W.C. Wood Company was the largest employer in Putnam County last year, employing 425 people. Also in the report was information stating that the company will not be able to pay any severance packages.

- Staff Writer Tom Jeffrey contributed to this story.