Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Performance Products was presented with a 2012 Vendor Partner Award at the 2013 NTP Distribution Tradeshow and Conference last week.
According to a press release, the honor follows last year’s “Vendor of the Year” award and is a reflection of “the mutual respect held by both organizations.” The show was held Feb. 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center and was the largest event in NTP’s history.
“We are honored to receive this award,” said John Walsh, vice president of sales and marketing for Cequent. “Cequent works hard to maintain great relationships with all of its distributors but it is always very gratifying to receive their appreciation. Working face-to-face with the NTP sales team and the RV dealers who drive our mutual success is a great opportunity to share our new product features and cement a strong start for the coming season.”
Cequent supplies NTP with some of North America’s most recognized brands including Reese, Tekonsha, Bulldog, Bargman, ROLA, Tow Ready and Draw-Tite.
When Cequent Performance Products announced plans to close its Goshen, Ind., plant and move the work to Mexico, workers vowed to challenge the move in court.
WNDU TV reported that Thursday (Jan. 17) those workers had their day in court in U.S. District Court in South Bend.
“I’m really happy and pleased today because I feel that the union has won, we won the right now to go to arbitration,” said President Deb Hathaway of United Steelworkers Local 9550. “And he (the judge) is going to give us his decision next week on whether they’re going to stop them from moving things out of the plant, so I’m actually happy.”
The judge did rule, over the company’s objections, that an arbitrator would hear the union’s claim that Cequent is contractually obligated to keep the plant open.
The judge hopes to rule next week on an injunction request that would prevent Cequent from moving equipment or laying off workers for the duration of the arbitration process.
“Next month we’re going to have 129 people laid off and so that’s why we wanted to get this court date, and get this so that they could stop things, which would mean they would stop the layoff for February,” said Hathaway.
Meantime, attorneys for Cequent warned that any delay in the move to Mexico could do more harm than good for the Goshen community at-large. Cequent has found a company that is interested in sub-leasing the entire plant—once Cequent moves out. Today in court, that company was identified as Lippert Components.
“There is a local company that may be interested in filling that building,” said Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, who testified at the hearing today. “That’s probably the biggest manufacturing building in Goshen, so it will be good to get it filled, but it won’t be filled with as high paying jobs I think as what we’re losing.”
Mayor Kauffman testified that the loss of Cequent would reduce local income tax revenues by some $330,000 per year.
Thursday’s hearing was five hours long and featured six witnesses, despite the fact that Cequent attorneys had argued that the hearing should not have taken place at all.
Even if the union won every single court battle, that would only keep Cequent in Goshen until the contract expires in March of 2014.
The union hopes that public pressure may force the company to stay in town for the long haul. “And certainly we haven’t abandoned those efforts, nor have we abandoned the efforts of getting the public behind the idea that American jobs are important, moving American jobs offshore so a few greedy people at the top can make more money, is not the American way,” said Michael O’Brien, Sub District Four Director for the United Steelworkers Union.
Cequent Performance Products launched its newest line of fifth-wheel hitches, the Reese R16 and R20. According to a press release, the hitches are the first to pass the rigorous Society of Automotive Engineer’s (SAE) heavy-duty accelerated cycle criteria J2638 and the 900,000 cycle fatigue and static tests.
Following the debut of the 16,000-pound R16, Reese launched the 20,000-pound R20. To accompany these hitches, Reese also developed new outboard fifth-wheel rail kits with customized installation brackets, as well as a new revitalized Reese Round Tube slider. The Reese R16 and R20 fifth-wheel hitches have a limited lifetime warranty that Cequent provides for all Reese fifth wheels, pin boxes and weight distribution systems.
Some of the key features include:
• New contoured handle offers a customized grip that includes universal control instructions while eliminating separate latch and providing high visibility for system lock and load.
• The premium Reese arch features pin mounting holes that better align with current rail kits, reducing looseness.
• New cast head and jaw system provides commercial durability and strength, improved head funneling for king pin to latch and a patent pending and a highly visible king pin indicator. The cast, double jaw mechanism is designed for longer wear, improved tolerances and eliminating chucking in the jaw system, and offers improved life and wear with added grease points.
• New cast pivot beam incorporates a vibration isolator system for vertical and longitudinal vibration that dampens and improves ride along with wider mounting for better stability and reduced wear. Vertical height adjustment ranges from 14 inches to 18 inches while the head and pivot beam can be offset 1 inch front or rear to maximize performance.
For more information on Reese visit www.ReeseProducts.com.
Editor’s Note: The following editorial appeared in a recent issue of The Goshen (Ind.) News and concerns the pending layoff of 450 workers at the Cequent Performance Products plant in that city.
Happy Thanksgiving. By the way, you’re fired.
That was essentially the message for roughly 450 employees at Cequent Performance Products in Goshen this past Wednesday afternoon. After weeks of speculation following the haunting recommendation from executives at Cequent’s parent company — TriMas out of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — to move the Goshen jobs to Mexico, the final decision was officially announced by plant manager Rich Brown during a shift change.
TriMas officials didn’t even have the guts to come down here personally and inform these hard-working employees they were taking away their jobs. They left that dirty little task to a plant manager who had nothing to do with this decision. That’s just disrespectful and cowardly.
What is the message here? Where is the sense of responsibility to community and country? Is money all that matters? What TriMas officials are telling us is that corporate profits matter more than human lives and the prosperity of this nation. That may sound dramatic, but what other rationale is there? Labor is cheaper in Mexico. Many U.S. workers have union protection and living wage standards. In this sad circumstance it is clear that people are numbers and numbers count when it’s time to add up the profits.
We understand the responsibility TriMas has to its shareholders. Maximizing profits is part of that responsibility. But this isn’t a case of a struggling company or industry that has to make cuts in order to continue. Cequent was making TriMas money, according to the company’s latest quarterly report. Obviously it wasn’t enough and 450 people here in Goshen will soon be looking for work. Please excuse us if we take that personally. It feels like a slap in the face to us. We can hardly imagine what it feels like to each Cequent employee who is working to pay the rent, feed their children and even pay their tithes.
Why would executives at TriMas care about any of that? There’s more money to be made south of the boarder (sic) and that trumps all. If we’re wrong about that we’d certainly invite a representative of TriMas to set us straight in this very space, in this community newspaper.
Please, TriMas, we’ll give you all the space you need within reason. Shed that cloak of anonymity and explain to us, eye to eye, how you’re right and we’re not just inadequate numbers on your balance sheet. Tell us how our American values are not detrimental to your corporate math. Please, tell us yourselves, without sending out your plant manager to do it.
Cequent Performance Products is moving out from its Goshen. Ind. plant and shipping production to a facility in Reynosa, Mexico, parent company TriMas Corp. announced Wednesday (Nov. 21).
As reported by the Elkhart Truth, it was an unwelcome piece of Thanksgiving news for hundreds of employees of the Goshen facility, where they make hitches and structural components for RVs and trailers. The 450 local jobs will end throughout next year, the company announced.
“They told us they made the decision and then they wished us ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’” said Deb Hathaway, vice president of steelworkers local 9550, which represents more than 350 of the 450 affected people.
“It was a very gloomy situation,” she said, and it will loom heavily on hundreds of family Thanksgiving gatherings tomorrow. “We’re all so thankful we just lost our jobs,” Hathaway said.
In a written announcement of the closing, Dave Wathen, president of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based TriMas, said, “While these types of decisions are never easy, we make them with significant consideration.”
He continued, “For those employees affected by the closure, the company is committed to working with them during this transition,” said Wathen.
According to the Elkhart Truth report, it’s been a contentious process since the company announced the possibility of moving the jobs last month. The union representing most of the local employees filed a federal lawsuit against the company, the company started having police come to the plant, and earlier today production stopped due to a bomb threat.
That had workers waiting outside for about 2 1/2 hours, Hathaway said. Then company officials made the announcement just before the end of the first shift. The company did allow second-shift workers to use vacation time to take the afternoon off without forfeiting holiday pay, she said.
At the first of next year, the company will tell workers how they’ll start to eliminate departments. Hathaway expects production to move to a single shift as things ramp down.
Meanwhile, the union continues to fight the move, she said. “We’re still fighting,” hoping to push the move into 2014.
To view the entire story click here.
A spokesman for Michigan-based Cequent Performance Products Inc. said “no decision will be made or announced today (Nov. 19)” regarding a potential move of the company’s Goshen, Ind., operation to Mexico, according to Inside INdiana Business.
The trailer hitch manufacturer employs more than 400 at the Elkhart County plant.
Cequent makes aftermarket towing and trailer products. The company announced a preliminary decision a few weeks ago to move production to Mexico. It had anticipated announcing a final decision by today.
Unionized steelworkers at the plant have a pending suit in federal court if Cequent decides to move.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based TriMas Corp. has responded to a claim by Steelworkers Local 9550 that the company does not want to continue meeting with union representatives about the possible closure of its 400-employee Goshen Cequent Performance Products plant, the Goshen News reported in a front-page story on Sunday (Nov. 11).
The union issued the statement Thursday at a protest in front of the plant along Lincolnway East on the east side of the Elkhart County seat.
“As matter of policy, the company does not comment on pending litigation,” Cequent’s management stated in an e-mail. “However, we can tell you that we remain fully committed to honoring our promise to continue meeting with the union at any time up to Nov. 19, to discuss this preliminary recommendation and receive the union’s input.”
Nov. 19 is the date the company has set for a decision on whether the plant that manufactures trailer hitches and other towing products under several brand names will be closed and its production moved to Mexico.
The union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday seeking a court order keeping the company from removing equipment and moving it to Reynosa, Mexico, where Goshen jobs will be moved to if the plant is closed.
“Keep our jobs in America!” shouted one angry Cequent worker, a member of the local United Steelworkers union. “Made in the U.S.A.!” shouted another.
According to a Goshen News report, drivers honked their vehicles and members of the community shouted their support as Cequent Performance Products workers picketed along U.S. 33 in Goshen, Ind., near the entrance to the plant Monday (Oct. 29) afternoon.
Local union vice president Deb Hathaway said the picketers — and Cequent workers in general — have felt the support of the community ever since Cequent’s parent company, TriMas, announced Oct. 18 that the production lines at the Goshen plant may move to Reynosa, Mexico, putting around 450 jobs in jeopardy.
“This means a lot to have their support,” Hathaway said. “This doesn’t just impact the 450 workers here at Cequent — it impacts the whole community.”
Many of the picketers have worked for Cequent for several years. Mark Schmanski has worked for the company for nearly 20 years. He said he’s never missed a day of work.
“I was shocked for the first couple of days after I heard (the announcement),” Schmanski said. “Now I’m angry. This building has made millions and millions and millions for this company. I would understand moving the jobs if this was not profitable, but this is just about greed.”
Schmanski said no one from TriMas Corp. came down to the plant to tell the workers, but rather someone from the plant’s management made the announcement.
Employees weren’t the only ones on the picket lines Monday. Brendan Mullen, the Democratic candidate for Indiana’s U.S. District 2 House seat, was at the protest alongside USW workers.
“I’m here today because we need to keep Hoosier jobs here,” Mullen said. “For this company with such extraordinary profits to ship jobs overseas is unacceptable.”
To read the entire article click here.
An expected meeting this afternoon could give more than 400 local workers at the Goshen, Ind., Cequent Performance Products facility more information on whether there is any chance to save their jobs.
According to a report by WSBT, South Bend, leaders in the Steelworkers Union were scheduled to meet today with Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman to discuss the situation.
Cequent parent TriMas Corp. announced it has made a preliminary decision to close its Goshen plant and move the jobs to Mexico. A final decision is expected next month. Cequent produces trailer hitch products for the RV and other industries.
United Steelworkers Union members picketed on Monday to draw attention to their cause. Officials for the city of Goshen said they are doing what they can to keep the company here.
“This will be a big deal for this town if we lose those jobs,” said City Councilman Jeremy Stutsman.
“They are getting the rug pulled out from under them after they have contributed so greatly to the company’s success,” said United Steel Workers spokesman Mike O’Brien. “This is not a plant that is losing money. They made hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The union says it will sit down with the company on Oct. 30 to talk about the proposed move.
Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial appearing in Sunday’s (Oct. 28) Goshen News opining on the potential closure of the Cequent Performance Products facility and the loss of 450 jobs.
This past week much of the buzz in the Elkhart County business community has revolved around the all-too-likely closure of Cequent Towing Products in Goshen, a company that manufactures hitches and towing accessories and employs roughly 450 people here.
After studying profit margins and costs, officials at Cequent’s parent company, TriMas Corp., based out of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., have recommended closing the Goshen plant and moving those production lines to Reynosa, Mexico. A final decision is expected in November.
This recommendation is disturbing on a number of fronts. Our local economy was decimated four years ago as the national recession took hold. Building it back up has been an uphill battle ever since. The loss of 450 local jobs will have a significant strain on our recovery, as well as the lives of those who would be newly unemployed.
Meanwhile, TriMas officials reported record third quarter profits on Thursday. Third-quarter sales for TriMas were a reported $336 million, up 21% from the same quarter in 2011. Profit for the quarter jumped from $35.8 million in 2011 to $36.6 million in 2012. Good for them. It is good to see hard work rewarded in the business sector. And we certainly feel it is safe to say that our local workers contributed to the success Cequent and TriMas have been experiencing.
We can’t blame TriMas for examining its business plan for increased efficiencies and cost savings. That’s smart business and TriMas owes it to its shareholders to be diligent about seeking profits. But at what cost? How much money is enough? John D. Rockefeller was once asked that question. His reply: “Just a little bit more.”
To achieve more, the cost appears to be American jobs. Indiana jobs. Goshen jobs. All this after Goshen City Council members twice in the past seven years approved tax phase-ins for improvements at Cequent, saving the company tens of thousands of dollars in tax costs.
We understand that business is business and that numbers matter. But we also understand that a community is a community and people matter. We hope — we’ll even plead — that TriMas executives think this through carefully and consider the lives of those who will truly be affected by this possible closure.
In the quest for “a little bit more,” it pains us that some of our own will potentially have a whole lot less.