A definite chill has set in for more than 350 Norcold refrigerator manufacturing employees. The chill isn’t coming from the cooling units. Instead, these hundreds of employees will soon be laid off as Thetford, Norcold’s parent company, says it’s moving all U.S. refrigerator production “to other global company owned and operated manufacturing facilities.”
The affected employees all presently work in Ohio, with the lion’s share directly involved in manufacturing in Sydney. The balance of 100 employees work in Norcold’s Gettysburg cooling-unit manufacturing plant. All 358 received 60-day “WARN” notices, required when a company plans on layoffs. Thetford’s official statement says, “The decision to close the Norcold locations and utilize the company’s global manufacturing capabilities was difficult, but necessary due to the current economic challenges and ongoing labor constraints.”
The timing couldn’t be much worse, with inflation at record levels, and the end-of-the–year holiday season not making for much merry for affected worker households. Government officials in Gettysburg are up in arms about the move. Local leaders say 90% of the village tax base is wrapped up in Norcold’s plant there.
“I don’t want to say panic”
Interviewed by area media outlet News Center 7, the village council president, Cheryl Byers, was blunt. “I don’t want to say panic because we do have good leaders and we will get through it. We always do. But this is just the biggest, biggest blow we’ve had since we lost our school.” That took place in 1972.
Village officials have appealed to their U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, asking for a meeting to discuss the situation—and to hopefully get Thetford to change its corporate mind. Brown’s response included, “The choice to put hundreds of Ohioans out of their jobs is not only the wrong one but it’s shortsighted and I hope Norcold reconsiders its decision.”
Norcold has been building refrigerators in Ohio for 50 years.
What effect will Norcold’s out-of-country transfer have on RV refrigerator consumers? That’s not presently clear. Will “importing” refrigerators to the U.S. from overseas suffer the same issues that other RV parts have had in the last couple of years—namely long waits and shortages? It could put a chill on sales of new RVs.