With a notice of a massive layoff in hand, Kevin Johnson left a meeting for local Ainsworth employees Wednesday morning without a job.
"They just let 110 of us go," said Johnson, who worked at the Bemidji plant for 16 years.
On Wednesday morning in Bemidji, representatives of Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. told employees that the company is permanently closing one of its two production lines at its oriented strand board plant in Bemidji effective immediately.
The Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based company, which acquired the Bemidji plant from Potlatch Corporation in 2004, is North America's fourth largest manufacturer and marketer of OSB.
"We've been running both of the lines at the OSB plant since we purchased the plants in 2004," said Catherine Ainsworth, chief operating officer and corporate secretary at Ainsworth, in an interview later in morning in Bemidji. "The one line is quite old and it's ... no longer economically viable. The costs are too high."
"Following a lengthy review of its long-term viability, the decision was made to close this operation now versus sometime in the future," added Brian Ainsworth, chairman and chief executive officer at Ainsworth in a news release. "We regret the impact of this difficult decision on our employees and the community, however, the age and the condition of the facility makes the closure necessary."
The closure of the Bemidji plant's older production line, which was built in 1981 and has been producing approximately 280 million square feet annually, resulted in the elimination of approximately 110 employees. The second production line, which currently produces approximately 300 million square feet annually, was completed in 1989.