The battering Canada’s auto sector has taken in recent months has spread to Elmira. YM Technology Inc. (YMT), the automotive tool and die plant located on South Field Drive, will close its doors by the end of March.
In recent years, the manufacturer of stamping press tools and dies for automotive companies and manufacturers, including major client Honda Motor Company, has suffered because of a variety of factors, including pressure from carmakers to reduce the price of dies; spikes in material costs, especially steel, and the significant rise in the Canadian dollar, which affected sales to the United States. It’s now reeling under the economic downturn that has dealt a blow to the automotive industry.
The latter development proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, affecting the company in a way that made business unprofitable for too long, says a spokesperson for YMT.
“[Because of] these economic factors – it has been ongoing for a few years – it was difficult to be profitable. For a couple of years there the Canadian dollar was very, very high and that was quite a blow,” said Marilyn Kado.
“In effect, we had inputs that were increasing in price and what we were getting for the dies was decreasing, so it put us in a bad position.”
In operation since 1998, the plant, which is owned by Yachiyo Industry Co. of Japan, started to feel the crunch some two years ago as customers pushed for lower prices. By the end of this month, at least 18 of the company’s 20 workers will lose their jobs. The remaining two will relocate to Barrie, home of YMT’s sister company, YOM, where they will fill in vacant positions.
Employees from the Elmira plant were offered the opportunity to apply for vacant positions at the parts stamping plant in Barrie as they became available. Those who chose not to apply for jobs in Barrie and who remained at their current positions until project completion were to be offered severance packages.
But the Barrie plant has also been hit hard by the economic downturn and has consequently already done its own downsizing in recent months, said Kado. As a result, the jobs that were lost in Elmira will not be recreated in Barrie.
“They are not going to source the die from us anymore so, going to Barrie is not a benefit to the owners,” she said.
A portion of the remaining equipment will be moved to Barrie; the remainder will be sold, as will the facility. YMT is still looking for buyers, however.
“It was an extremely difficult decision. We hope the buyer will be able to provide some jobs, for sure.”