The owners of a wind tower plant near the Port of Catoosa are negotiating to sell the plant and one in North Dakota for $20 million, leaving workers with an uncertain future.
DMI Industries is owned by Otter Tail Corporation. It announced the sale in a news release on its website, but did not identify the potential buyer for the Catoosa and West Fargo plants.
The company said the transaction is expected to close no later than January 3, 2013. Both plants are scheduled to close late this fall when current orders are met.
DMI Industries moved into the facility near the Port of Catoosa in 2007 and it employs 167 people.
"I was floored," said DMI employee Jim Lee. "We're all just kind of in shock. It's a difficult thing that we just have to deal with."
Jim Lee has worked as a welder here since the factory opened and says the company told the workers the news on Monday.
"The economy the way it is, you don't know what's going to happen and you hope for the best, and unfortunately, this is what happened to us," Lee said.
DMI Industries makes enormous windmill towers and ships them all over the world.
Workers said they were told the doors close in November no matter what, and no one knows if a buyer could eventually re-open the plant.
"I've worked at other places that have been bought out, and it's worked out. And I've worked at other places that it hasn't worked out, so we'll just have to see what time holds," Lee said.
When DMI moved to Tulsa in 2007, the Port of Catoosa was the selling point, because it could connect to ocean ports.
The company's statement this week said there has been a reduced demand for wind towers "due to adverse market conditions affecting the industry."
"Fulfill the work that we have and try to look for the future somehow," Lee said.
If the sale falls through, DMI's owner will still close both plants and sell all of its assets.
Read the Otter Tail Corporation news release.
Company officials hope the new owners "see the value in our plants and skilled workforce." But the company's statement says there has been a reduced demand for wind towers "due to adverse market conditions affecting the industry." It adds if the transaction is not completed, it will close both plants and sell all of its fixed assets.