27 Telemecanique workers quit in voluntary reduction Speculations on plant's future rise as restructuring continues


WESTMINSTER -- Twenty-seven employees at the Telemecanique Inc. plant on Bethel Road voluntarily quit their jobs earlier this month as part of an effort to reduce the work force, a company official said.

The company has been restructuring since selling its Route 140 building last year and consolidating manufacturing at 2002 Bethel Road.

A county official said last week that he expects the company to phase out its operations here in 12 to 18 months, but the company said that no such decision has been made.

Economic Development Director James C. Threatte told members of the county's Economic Development Commission Wednesday that he believed the company would move its operations to Raleigh, N.C.

Threatte told a reporter later in the day that he "misspoke" at the meeting.

Telemecanique Vice President Pat DeGail said no decision has been made to phase out the Bethel Road plant, at which 250 people are employed.

The decision would be made by officials of Square D Co., a Palatine, Ill., firm owned by the same parent company as Telemecanique, he said.

The parent company -- Paris-based Groupe Schneider -- is in the process of consolidating Telemecanique and Square D, which has a facility in Raleigh, DeGail said.

When Telemecanique closed its Route 140 plant, it moved its U.S. headquarters and about 100 employees to Owings Mills. According to a Baltimore Business Journal report last month, the company has hired a real estate broker to try to lease the Owings Mills space.

Square D spokesman Robert P. Fiorani said some management employees from the Owings Mills office had moved to Raleigh and others were considering moving. He did not know how many already had moved.

No decision has been made about whether the Owings Mills office will close, Fiorani said.

Telemecanique makes automation equipment for factories and has been in Carroll since 1985.

County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said Telemecanique officials have promised to keep her apprised of their plans.

"Telemecanique is in a transitional situation at this time," she said.

Marilyn Corbett, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, said state officials tried to persuade Telemecanique to keep its operation here, but Square D has excess space in Raleigh.

"It was not an instance of being dissatisfied here," she said. "There weren't any problems we could fix. It was a business decision."

Telemecanique officials met with Bethel Road employees May 4 and offered severance packages to those willing to quit, DeGail said. He would not disclose details about the severance packages.

The 27 volunteers came from all departments, and many were nearing retirement age, he said.

Diane Massey, who oversees the county's job training office, said Telemecanique officials called in her "rapid response" team on May 21 to give the employees information about finding new jobs.

"The mood, the environment, was the most uplifting rapid response we've ever done," she said.

Many of the employees knew what they would do next, and most seemed happy with the severance package, Massey said.

"There was no discussion of mass layoffs or plant closure," she said.

Some employees took jobs with Knorr Brake Corp., which bought Telemecanique's Route 140 building and began operations there last September.

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