St. Marys Cement has suspended manufacturing operations at its Dixon, Ill., plant, which will result in the loss of about two-thirds of its workforce, reported www.SaukValley.com.

Employees received notification of the company’s decision Dec. 5, and the changes will be implemented this month. At the time of the announcement, the plant had about 62 workers. The cement production stoppage is expected to result in 41 layoffs.

The company will offer employees severance packages and outplacement assistance.

Dixon’s plant operations have three facets – manufacturing the cement, grinding it into powder, and distribution. The company plans to continue the grinding process through the summer until existing inventory is gone. The plant also will be used for distribution purposes.

The decision was made to improve cost efficiencies, and Dixon’s location puts it at a transportation disadvantage, the company said. St. Marys has five cement plants and 12 terminals. Most are along the Great Lakes, as are the bulk of its customers in the United States and Canada.

“The company’s other plants can capitalize on the Great Lakes to distribute bulk cement,” said Chris Mason, a company spokesman. “We look at the total cost of operations, and in addition to the costs of maintaining the plant, it’s cheaper to ship cement than move it by truck.”

The door remains open for resuming full operations in Dixon, but there is no rigid timeline for making that decision, Mason said. Plant maintenance will be done on a regular basis so it could quickly restart manufacturing operations, which include quarry and large kiln work.

“St. Marys continually monitors market conditions, anticipated demand and available resources,” Mason said. “Based on those assessments, plans are subject to change.”

A determination on resuming production could be made by the end of 2018.

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