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Koontz-Wagner Custom Controls closure puts more than 100 out of work in South Bend

The plant on Ameritech Drive // WSBT 22

It's been in South Bend since 1921, but Wednesday employees at Koontz-Wagner Custom Control found out they no longer have a job.

This impacts more than 100 workers.

Koontz-Wagner Custom Control is different than Koontz-Wagner Services. The two are owned and operated separately.

Wednesday's move impacts the plant on Voorde Drive, which will remain partially open since the two companies share that building, but the building on Ameritech Drive is now closed.

For the past 16 years Ron Randolph has pulled into the parking lot at Voorde Drive.

But he says Wednesday took a harsh and stunning turn.

"No one knew about it to 9 o' clock this morning when we had a meeting and they told us we are shutting the doors. Get your stuff it's time to leave,” said Randolph.

Randolph says it hurts.

“It's like breaking up one big family,” said Randolph.

The company says when it couldn't sell the business, advisors decided they needed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

"They couldn't pay their vendors, vendors started asking for their money. Quit sending them product to make these buildings and eventually it just imploded,” said Bill Scally.

Scally says the company failed to inform employees ahead of time.

“They're supposed to let the employees know 60 days prior to a large layoff or a sale or something like that. And they didn't do that, they did it today. So they still owe them 60-days pay,” said Scally.

The Voorde plant is the only one that is unionized.

Workers there will have health benefits until September and are negotiating a severance package.

The 36 employees at the Amertitech plant get nothing.

"We were looking at a purchase to get them some control, help for when that happened. But this kind of dumps all of that,” said Scally.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a chance another business could purchase and reopen the company.

Randolph says he hopes that is the case, but as he walks to his car, he's in a cloud of uncertainty.

The company says it will now focus on reducing costs and restructuring other parts of the organization.

Scally says the union is trying to find jobs for the workers at other area companies.

KW Services, LLC (which does business as Koontz-Wagner Services) issued the following response on the closure of Koontz-Wagner Custom Controls Holdings LLC:

“We have been advised that Williams Industrial Services Group Inc. (formerly known as Global Power Equipment Group Inc.) has discontinued operation of the wholly-owned subsidiary Koontz-Wagner Custom Controls Holdings LLC. That subsidiary has filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy,” said Mike Fernander, President and CEO of Koontz-Wagner Services. “Koontz-Wagner Custom Controls Holdings is a different business than Koontz-Wagner Services. They serve different clients, have different employees and management, as well as different owners. Koontz-Wagner Services is in no way involved or affected by the happenings at Koontz-Wagner Custom Controls Holdings.”

“We’ve been here for nearly 100 years. Our customers and clients can continue to expect the same level of service from us they always have.”

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