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Jeep supplier to close plant in North Toledo

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    File photo from 2008, Mark Harbaugh, right, Plant manager at Toledo Molding & Die, Inc. talks about the plant productions to Rich Crayon, left, UAW chairman at plant.

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A local automotive parts supplier will close its North Toledo plant this spring, eliminating 120 jobs, company officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Toledo Molding and Die has been making the Jeep Wrangler’s instrument panels for more than a decade at its Phillips Avenue factory, but the firm was not chosen by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to continue that work on the new Wrangler.

“TMD works very hard to win its replacement business, but the company was not able to achieve direct replacement business in this case,” company president Steve Ciucci said in an e-mail to The Blade.

Toledo Molding and Die will continue supplying parts to Fiat Chrysler for the outgoing Wrangler for the rest of its production run. Officials with FCA have suggested production of that vehicle will end sometime in April, through a spokesman declined to provide specifics on Tuesday.

In papers filed with the state, Toledo Molding and Die said it expects to shut down its plant on April 13.

While the closure is a blow to Toledo Molding and Die and those affected employees, the impact to the city’s economy is likely to be negligible.

The firm that won the instrument panel contract, Detroit Manufacturing Systems, is keeping the work in Toledo, electing to build a new plant in Central Toledo’s Overland Industrial Park that officials have said would employ at least 140 people and could eventually employ up to 300.

In addition to the new Wrangler, DMS will also make parts for an upcoming Jeep pickup truck.

That vehicle, like the new and outgoing Wrangler, will be built exclusively at FCA’s Toledo Assembly Complex. 

Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12, said a number of the union-represented employees who would have lost their jobs at Toledo Molding and Die have already been hired on at Detroit Manufacturing systems or at the nearby Dana Inc. axle plant.

“We have a great workforce at Toledo Molding and Die, and fortunately Dana and DMS have picked up a lot of those folks,” Mr. Baumhower said. “Some are still there — they wanted to stay until the buildout in April — and our hope was to find jobs for them within our local.”

Mr. Ciucci, who said some Toledo Molding and Die employees may have the opportunity to transfer to the firm’s other northwest Ohio facilities in Bowling Green, Tiffin, and Delphos, also praised the workforce.

“The plant has been very successful for many years, due in large part to the excellent employees that worked there in the past and those that are still working there,” he said.

Toledo Molding and Die did win contracts for other components on the new Wrangler. That, along with other new business, has helped to offset the loss of the instrument panels, Mr. Ciucci said.

While a number of other layoffs are expected as Jeep winds down production of the outgoing Wrangler, most if not all of those are to be temporary.

Late last week, Mobis North America, an on-site supplier for the Toledo Assembly Complex, said it would be laying off 572 employees starting April 7. Mr. Baumhower has said he also expects KUKA Toledo Production Operations to announce 350 layoffs sometime soon.

The layoffs are necessary so FCA can prepare the plant to build the new Wrangler-based truck.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com419-724-6134, or on Twitter @TyrelLinkhorn.

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