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Published: Friday, 12/15/2006

Ford exec offers reassurance on Maumee plant site


A Ford Motor Co. official told a Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce gathering yesterday that the automaker, which plans to close its Maumee Stamping Plant by 2008, is trying to "make sure that the end use of that property is in the best interests of the community."

Paul Kosaian, director of operations for Ford's stamping business unit, said the company's decision to close many plants and give buyouts to 38,000 workers - about half of its U.S. work force - "was one of the toughest things we've had to do as a company."

But he said that Ford "will emerge a stronger and more capable company" and that "we'll be here. Our best days are ahead of us."

Ford's restructuring "will be difficult and painful. But there was simply no other choice for us," Mr. Kosaian said.

He declined to say exactly how many of the 700 workers at the Maumee plant, which opened in 1974, took various buyouts, but union officials had said that 561 of the 608 hourly employees in Maumee planned to apply for one of several options.

Speaking before a crowd of about 120 at the Toledo Club, Mr. Kosaian also did not specify a timetable for the sale or other disposal of the Maumee plant - a former automotive-frame facility for Midland-Ross Corp. - that Ford bought in 1973 and retooled.

The plant now makes bumpers, body panels, and other vehicle parts.

Toledo's Lott Industries presented an award to Ford officials at the meeting, recognizing the firm's longtime employment of Lott's 1,000 workers who are mentally retarded or who have other developmental disorders.

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