Post Falls recycling company lays off 25 employees-General manager cites downturn at Kaiser, overseas competition

POST FALLS — IMCO Recycling Inc. is operating at about 50 percent capacity after laying off 25 workers in response to weak demand for recycled aluminum.

Staff writer Coeur d’Alene Press

Two of the plant’s four furnaces devoted to melting down scrap aluminum have been shut down and 25 of the plant’s 51 full-time employees were laid off Friday. Jeff Bohannon, general manager at IMCO, said the loss of Kaiser Aluminum’s business was a factor.

"Kaiser has faded away," said Bohannon. "That hurt. They were a big part of our business."
The company also cited a weakening U.S. dollar, stiff overseas competition and low demand.

Bohannon said operation costs forced the cutbacks, and IMCO has no plans to refire its furnaces until demand rebounds.
The plant-wide cuts affected many long-time employees, including a few who worked at the plant since it opened in 1989.

The 35-acre operation at 4000 W. Prairie Ave. will continue to operate two rotary furnaces, which separate aluminum from molten metal.

Mark Mantooth, manager of recycling operations at IMCO in Rockwood, Tenn., said the company also suffered increased energy costs due to the drought and the higher cost of hydroelectric power.

He said some aluminum manufacturers found it more profitable to sell unused power than to produce aluminum. The IMCO plant employed 76 workers in 2001, which steadily declined with aluminum production.

Typically, IMCO attempts to diversify its client base. However, the Post Falls plant was unable to find major customers other than Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane, Mantooth said.
"We’re highly dependent on the customer," he said. "Unless fundamentals change in the market, we don’t see that facility coming back anytime soon."

IMCO recycles aluminum in 21 plants across the nation. Customers include aluminum producers and die casters, extruders, automotive companies and other processors of aluminum products. It also owns plants in Germany, Brazil, Wales and Mexico.

IMCO Recycling Inc., headquartered in Irving, Texas, reported on Jan. 29 fourth-quarter 2002 net earnings of $1.5 million or 10 cents a share. In the same period of 2001, the company had a net loss of $3.4 million or 23 cents a share.
In the report, Don Ingram, chairman and chief executive officer, said the improvement in the company’s fourth-quarter financial performance was partially due to reductions in plant operating costs and productivity gains from technologically advanced equipment and processes.

Ingram also said processing volume at IMCO’s aluminum recycling plants was "well below full capacity" in the fourth quarter, following two years of weak activity in the U.S. industrial sector and a decline in aluminum can recycling.

The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol IMR. Its stock closed Friday at $5.50 a share, off a 52-week high of $11.55.

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