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MIAMI boat factory to close

Updated:

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) _ Citing a weak economy, US Marine announced plans Thursday to shut down its boat manufacturing and service distribution center in Miami, putting 150 people out of work.

Most workers employed at Bayliner Marine Corp. will be laid off by mid-September. The distribution center will be closed by the end of the year, the company said.

Workers make Maxum runabouts from 18- to 24-feet long and deck boats.

``We were pretty devastated,'' Lynette Young said when she learned from her husband, Kenny, that he would be losing his job after 12 years at the plant. ``It could be a situation where both of us will have to work at other jobs just to make what Kenny did at Bayliner.''

William J. Barrington, president of US Marine, Bayliner's parent company, said the marine market ``remains challenging in the face of a weak economy and consumer uncertainty.

``The boat plant closure will enable us to eliminate redundant capacity and allow us to better meet current and expected demand for our products.''

US Marine, based in Arlington, Wash., began operating the manufacturing facility in 1988 and the distribution center since 1992, company spokesman Dan Kubera said.

Production of the models produced at Miami will be transferred to US Marine's manufacturing facility in Pipestone, Minn., the company said. The responsibilities of the distribution center will be transferred by the end of the year.

US Marine is a unit of Lake Forest, Ill.-based Brunswick Corp.

Brunswick sold its Tulsa-based Zebco fishing reel manufacturing operation June 29. The 52-year-old business was acquired by Columbus, Ga.-based W.C. Bradley Co.

Bayliner workers hoped Thursday that positions might be available at another of the boat maker's plants.

Young said it was her understanding that some employees might be able to transfer to the Minnesota plant or to others in Tennessee, Washington or Maryland.

City officials were surprised that Miami would be losing a major manufacturing plant.

``I was out of town when I received the news this morning,'' said Mayor Harrell Post. ``I turned the car around and came home. This had been rumored for a few months but it still came as quite a shock to me.''
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