Flex-N-Gate officials expect GM cuts to have short-term effect

Sunday, December 12th 2004, 3:34 pm
By: News On 6

ADA, Okla. (AP) _ Efforts to diversify its operations may shield a company that manufactures bumpers from being too harshly affected by cutbacks at the General Motors Oklahoma City assembly plant, officials said.

Flex-N-Gate builds front and rear plastic bumpers for the seven-passenger versions of the Chevrolet Trailblazer and GMC Envoy, produced at the Oklahoma City plant.

``The owners of Flex-N-Gate have been extremely aggressive in searching for ways to diversify our operation,'' Ted Carson, controller for the Ada plant, said earlier this week. ``We have about 400 employees, 360 are permanent and 40 or so are probationary. While its too early to predict, we don't expect any permanent employees to lose their jobs.''

GM officials announced Tuesday they would slow production by 24 percent and layoff 250 to 300 of the 2,600 employees at the Oklahoma City plant. The factory will be shut down until Jan. 18.

Flex-N-Gate has been awarded another GM contract at the Shreveport, La., assembly plant, Carson said. Production of parts for the H3-Hummer should begin early next year, he said.

The company also has another contract with the GM assembly plant at Arlington, Texas, and is producing parts for a Ford assembly plant in Kentucky.

Flex-N-Gate was affected when a tornado severely damaged the plant in May 2003. When production stopped at Oklahoma City, about 300 of Flex-N-Gates 350 employees were laid off.

``Fortunately, were not going to go through that again,'' Carson said. ``While cutbacks at the GM assembly plant is not good news, its certainly not as devastating as it was in May 2003.''

Currently, the Ada plant operates three shifts in the molding department, and two shifts in the paint and assembly sections.

``We hope to have three shifts in all departments in the near future,'' Carson said. ``We still have a way to go to be at full capacity.''