Fedders Corp., the nation's largest maker of home air conditioners, announced a restructuring yesterday that includes the sale of its Western Maryland plant and the closing of two others in New Jersey.
Fedders' Rotorex compressor plant in Walkersville is being acquired by Nycor Inc., a Basking Ridge, N.J., holding company, for approximately $76.6 million. The purchase price includes approximately $63 million for the assets of the plant and the assumption of about $13.6 million of liabilities.
Barbara VanBlarcum, a spokeswoman for Fedders, called the sale "a very positive development" for the approximately 460 workers at the Frederick County plant. She said no layoffs were expected and that the factory's management would remain.
The Walkersville plant also produces compressors used by refrigerator manufacturers in the United States and abroad.
Because of a sharp drop-off in shipments of room air conditioners in recent years, Ms. VanBlarcum said, Fedders was burdened with excess capacity. The restructuring, she said, was designed to significantly lower the sales volume needed by the company to break even.
She declined to offer figures on Fedders' shipments but said that industry shipments as a whole for the first six months of the year were the lowest since 1986. Industry shipments totaled 5.1 million units in 1989, she said, then dropped to 2.8 million last year and are expected to total 2.5 million to 3 million units this year.
Ms. VanBlarcum said Fedders controls about 28 percent of the domestic market for room air conditioners.
For the nine months that ended May 31, Fedders reported a loss of $6.6 million on sales of $157.5 million.
Ms. VanBlarcum said the company's fortunes are closely linked to the weather and the retailing economy. She said sales were hurt this year because the weather stayed cool in the major markets of the Northeast and upper Midwest.
The closing of the Woodbridge and Dover plans in New Jersey will eliminate about 600 jobs, the company said. Those plants assemble room air conditioners, work that is to be consolidated at other Fedders plants in Illinois and Tennessee.