Oldcastle customers ponder Schofield plant closing

Sahely Mukerji
January 22, 2009
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION

Customers were caught by surprise at the sudden closing of the Schofield, Wis., Oldcastle plant.

"The Jan. 23 closure date is rather stunning considering the short notice and potential problems it will cause for customers and vendors alike," said Steve Zurcher, president, St. George Glass Co., Iron Mountain, Mich., a customer. "Indications from company representatives are that other centers are being closed in markets where they feel they have an oversupply of services."

In a Jan. 19 letter to customers, Ray Orr, president, central region, Oklahoma City, Oldcastle Glass, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., stated that the company's Schofield manufacturing plant in Medford, Wis., will close Jan. 23. "All orders scheduled to deliver before that date will be shipped from the Schofield location. Subsequent orders will be shipped from our Wausau facility," according to the letter. Wausau representatives will contact customers directly to coordinate existing orders.

According to a company representative at Oldcastle’s Green Bay office, additional distribution center closings include Butler, Wis., and Louisville, Ky., Zurcher said. When contacted by Glass Magazine, the Oldcastle representative declined to comment.

The Schofield facility is a wholesale glass center with a retail and commercial contracting division, said Dave Mohelnitzky, general manager, Rib Mountain Glass Inc., Wausau, Wis., another customer. “We bought pretty much the whole gamut from there [Schofield]--stock goods, flat glass, lami, IGs, miscellaneous hardware mirror,” he said. “This is going to be inconvenient for us. They are a good local supplier. I’ve been here since 1979, and we’ve had a very good working relationship with them. They are right in our back yard, about 12 miles away.”

Ken Johnson, owner, Keweenaw Glass, Calumet, Mich., agreed. “We’re shocked and very disappointed,” he said. “The Schofield plant was our major supplier for 15-some years. Most of our flat glass, mirror stock, shower doors and commercial metal jobs, [such as] aluminum storefronts came from there. From what I understand, Wausau doesn’t do architectural metal work from that division, and it might be really hard for us to find another supplier up in this rural area.”

The Schofield plant wasn’t doing badly, the customers say.

According to his contacts, the plant has been very busy, Johnson said. “In fact, they were late in giving us quotes because they were so behind,” he said. The plant was profitable, but not profitable enough, Zurcher said. “The Green Bay rep said it wasn’t closing because of cash flow,” he said.

Calls and e-mails to Oldcastle were not returned.