Brown-Minneapolis Tank-Northwest, a large steel fabrication business and anchor tenant at Satsop Business Park, quietly began work Monday to shut down its operations.
The company sent a letter to customers, employees and park staff announcing its efforts to sell or merge the business had been unsuccessful, and the Satsop operation would shut down after the completion of its current projects, expected by Oct. 31.
“As the management team of BMT-NW, this is a very sad day for all of us. We know that everyone here has shown a great commitment to making a quality product for our customers and we appreciate the support from our vendors and partners,” the letter stated.
The company’s board says in the letter it intends to honor its vendor agreements and complete all current jobs, although new jobs that are not yet in production will not be completed. The letter stated the company would help find alternate vendors.
BMT recently completed a large project painting the seating structures in the new Husky Stadium for the University of Washington. Attempts to reach BMT-NW management Wednesday were unsuccessful.
“It seemed like there was quite a bit of work out there to be done, so I wasn’t concerned the economy wasn’t doing well in that sector,” said Satsop Business Development Manager Alissa Shay said. “I can only speculate, but it was definitely a surprise. They’ve been an integral part of the park.”
WorkSource Grays Harbor has already begun reaching out to employees, setting up a “rapid response meeting” at Satsop Business Park Oct. 2.
“When we get this information, we do outreach as much as possible to the affected workers to help them understand unemployment compensation and the resources that may be available at WorkSource Grays Harbor,” co-manager Ron Schmidt said.
WorkSource will explain various training and resume-writing services, and representatives from the Washington State Labor Council and the state unemployment insurance will be on hand to answer technical questions.
Some of the 47 workers got layoff notices Monday, according to the company’s letter, and a second round of notices will go out between Oct. 15 and Oct. 31 depending on when the active jobs are completed. The remainder will be laid off after the assets have been sold.
Tim Gibbs, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc., said he’s been working with BMT-NW for several weeks on options for the Satsop location.
“It’s an ongoing project and we hope to find a collective solution going forward,” he said.
He declined to speak specifically on efforts under way or options on the table for the company.
“We have to respect their privacy, and we can’t hurt the process going forward or diminish the options they may be looking at,” Gibbs said.
The BMT-NW closure comes on the heels of county-by-county jobless numbers showing Grays Harbor County back on top with 11 percent unemployment. Another large employer, Harbor Paper, closed in February for restructuring and has yet to re-open.
“Maybe it’s a wave, I hope it’s not a tsunami,” Gibbs said.
He noted there’s reason for optimism; While the unemployment percentage is still high, the number of people working ticked up by 110. “We can see that there’s an economic recovery going on, but it’s a very slow recovery and these are the trials and tribulations going on,” Gibbs said.
Satsop Business Park, now a property of the Port of Grays Harbor, has partnered with BMT-NW since BMT moved its Olympia operation to the business park. It’s featured on the park’s website as a “Satsop success story.”
Shay said it’s not clear yet what the plans are for that space, or how that potential loss of lease revenue would affect the park.
The WorkSource employee event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the technical building at Satsop Business Park. For more information, contact WorkSource at 360-533-9318.
“They are a pretty big part of what we do. We have not received any communication that they are discontinuing the lease, although this letter would indicate that that’s the next step,” she said. “We’re just getting more information and deciding where to go from there. We certainly do not want to see them leave, but at the same time we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”