SC

American LaFrance Shuts SC Plant

Last year, FITS investigated reports that Lowcountry emergency vehicle manufacturer American LaFrance was planning on closing its Moncks Corner, S.C. plant. At the time, company executives – and officials at the S.C. Department of Commerce – were adamant that these reports were false. Well guess what … earlier this month…

Last year, FITS investigated reports that Lowcountry emergency vehicle manufacturer American LaFrance was planning on closing its Moncks Corner, S.C. plant.

At the time, company executives – and officials at the S.C. Department of Commerce – were adamant that these reports were false.

Well guess what … earlier this month American LaFrance abruptly shut down this facility, costing 150 South Carolinians their jobs. Two other facilities also shuttered (one in Pennsylvania, the other in Los Angeles) as the company closed its doors for good.

“Unfortunately, the company’s unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations in these locations at this time, and these facilities are not expected to reopen,” a statement from American LaFrance read.

Last week two former employees at the company filed a lawsuit, alleging they did not receive sufficient notification under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) – which requires firms employing more than 100 people to provide sixty days notification of termination.

“These employees have been left out in the cold,” their attorney told The Berkeley Independent. “Not only did they lose wages and benefits, they lost the time they needed to search for new employment.”

Ah yes … “it’s a great day in South Carolina.”

American LaFrance received an undisclosed amount of taxpayer-funded incentives in 2002 when it announced its plans to move to South Carolina.

“Today, we begin a new chapter in the rich history of American LaFrance,” the company’s president said at the time, promising the creation of 800 new jobs in South Carolina.

Former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges welcomed the company by “happily clanging away” at a fire bell, which one of the company’s executives said was “a warning … to our competitors.”

Yeah … for whom is that bell tolling now?

While the total tab to South Carolina taxpayers remains unknown, American LaFrance leaves Berkeley County owing local taxpayers more than $650,000 – part of a fee in lieu of tax deal it struck with local “economic developers.”

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34 comments

venomachine January 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

American LaFrance had management problems. Trying to make it anything other than that is reaching.

[quote]“It’s not at all surprising,” Brooks said. “Could see it coming.” Brooks said one of the big reasons ALF got into trouble is because it was being run by people who didn’t know the fire service. “You’ve got to have experience in the fire service if you want to succeed.”

Indeed management of American LaFrance under its current owners, New York-based, Patriarch Partners LLC, the company that most recently was running it anyway, once said they could run garbage truck cabs and chassis down the same line as fire trucks because they were essentially the same thing. Those comments were quoted far and wide and showed how out of touch management was with the fire service. [/quote]

http://www.firehouse.com/blog/11297342/fire-truck-maker-american-lafrance-closes-in-2014

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No January 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm

No doubt nikki haley will speak of this.

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Bastard Pig Pols January 27, 2014 at 9:30 am

“American LaFrance received an undisclosed amount of taxpayer-funded incentives in 2002 when it announced its plans to move to South Carolina.”

SON OF A FUCKING BITCH!

This is what crony capitalism looks like everyone(both R’s and D’s!)

This is something that EVERYONE should be against.

$10 says they never came close to 800 employees, but more importantly what you do with this ongoing failed model is basically allow taxpayers to subsidize the losses and private companies privatize the profits.

I’m sure the executives came out OK, with much of the salary paid for by US!

Enough with this bullshit.

Give new companies tax breaks, NOTHING MORE!

It is obviously immoral to give taxpayer money to private entities, but even more importantly proven mostly ineffective. If you want to make the case for BMW so be it, but you should ask yourself if the same goal could have been accomplished simple with tax exemptions…and remember that was only 1 success out of many, MANY failures.

We should not be allowing our pols to pick and choose who gets their favors, the opportunities for corruption are numerous. It should be obvious.

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Jackie Chiles January 27, 2014 at 11:39 am

I’m not sure we should go with the “there’s a chance it might not work, therefore we should never try it” theory of governance. Some tax incentives work, some don’t. Some pay off, some don’t. I’m pretty sure the employees of this company were happy to have a job for 10 years that they otherwise would not have had. I’m also relatively certain that the net gain to Berkeley county still justifies the incentives.

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Bastard Pig Pols January 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

“I’m also relatively certain”

Yea, not really a convincing argument, no offense.

“I’m not sure we should go with the “there’s a chance it might not work, therefore we should never try it” theory of governance.”

Yea, you should. It’s one thing to take people’s money against their will “for their own good”, it’s another then to take it to Vegas and black craps with it.

That’s what privately run companies are supposed to be about, risk taking.

Risk taking shouldn’t be done with taxpayers dollars.

I’m sorry that doesn’t seem apparent to you.

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Bastard Pig Pols January 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

edit: “play craps”

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Jackie Chiles January 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

First, the risk isn’t with tax dollars. It’s risking future tax dollars that never existed in the first place. It’s not like the company was going to move to Berkeley County in the first place. That land wasn’t exactly a booming tax center for Berkeley county before the incentives. You either get no tax revenue because the company doesn’t move there or you get no tax revenue from the company itself but its employees move to the area, pay property taxes, shop in the county, buy cars in the county eat in the county, buy gas in the county, etc. You had 10 years of that as opposed to what? 10 years of fallow land tax revenue?

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Bastard Pig Pols January 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm

” It’s risking future tax dollars that never existed in the first place.”

I have no beef with that, I believe once again we are seeing a mixing of terms between what is a tax incentive versus a company being handed actual taxpayer funds.

Torch January 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

Just put a potato farm on it and it wouldn’t be fallow.

Philip Branton January 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

WOW…..we wonder if Nancy Mace would not only take a rickshaw ride to her debate but if she understands how to ask Senator Lindsey Graham if La France made trash trucks that served our bases in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of those incinerators that were supposedly never used. This could be Lindsey Graham’s “Berkley VORTEX” issue in any debate. KA-BOOM…..

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EJB January 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I know on at least one base in Iraq
the incinerator was a hole in the ground and JP-5.

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Philip Branton January 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Care to wager on the Djibouti “La France” incinerator….??

BRAVO comment………gold star and “WOW” realm sniper…..

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CNSYD January 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

I presume that Sic Willie missed the WSJ article on hiring at Boeing SC which could easily offset above closure. But when you live in the Lex/Rich centric world of Sic Willie there is a lot you miss.

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Red Necked And Drunk January 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Lol. 10 years from now they might build enough planes…that would be something…

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CNSYD January 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I guess the WSJ lied about the numbers of SC 787s delivered last year. Also, next time you ride by the Boeing plant on I-526, look at the 787s undergoing final outfitting. I guess those are just wooden movie props, right?

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SCBlueWoman January 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

They are hiring 300 more skilled technical workers to help with continued line problems at the SC plant. I’m betting those skilled workers will not be from SC.

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Bonner January 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

You can bet the ranch on that SCBW

CNSYD January 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm

If you could prove that (which is doubtful), would these “non SC” workers not buy houses in SC, pay taxes in SC, etc. So what’s your point?

SCBlueWoman January 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm

The point is that maybe they will by homes. The will contribute to the economy but the people out of work here will still be out of work. That’s the point.

Jackie Chiles January 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Whose homes are they buying? Whose gas stations are they shopping at? Whose eateries are they frequenting? Having people with good jobs move into the area only creates more jobs. Even if locals aren’t directly hired by Boeing in droves, they will still benefit.

SCBlueWoman January 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I agree. The high paying technical jobs go to those moving in and the low wage service jobs go to the locals. Sounds about right.

Annie Oakley January 28, 2014 at 8:48 am

The solution is to stay in school, study hard and pursue a course of studies that will qualify you for the high-paying technical jobs. You can’t expect to be an uneducated schlub and get hired into the best-paying jobs.

Jackie Chiles January 28, 2014 at 9:37 am

Did you honestly think Boeing was planning on trolling McDonalds and BK for technicians to build an Airliner? These poor locals that you’re bemoaning had a choice of not working anywhere because there was no increased demand or getting a job because Boeing created a demand for increased low wage services. You’re living in some dream world where Boeing is hiring a bunch of moronic sandwich shop workers to build highly sophisticated aircraft.

SCBlueWoman January 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

I’m saying the Boeing went where there are skilled workers. We don’t have that here, well, at least enough of them. What’s with calling sandwich shop workers moronic? They aren’t. They are trying to make ends meet. I’m tired of the GOP claiming this skilled job and that skilled job AKA higher paying jobs coming to SC when the net is not higher paying jobs for residents. WTG

Jackie Chiles January 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

The Boeing workers that moved here are SC residents. So we should encircle the state as it is in 2014, and demand only people living in the state in 2014 get jobs for companies that move to the state? Don’t be so obtuse.

If a sandwich shop worker was smart enough to get a better job, then he will. You’re acting like the majority of sandwich shop workers should be out there constructing highly sophisticated aircraft. It’s just not the case. The majority of sandwich shop workers have skills and training that qualifies them to be sandwich shop workers. I know you imagine some dream land where sandwich shop workers are hired in droves to work at jobs paying $50k a year merely because they happened to live in South Carolina on the right date and time, but the rest of us live in reality.

Jackie Chiles January 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

Doesn’t unemployment insurance give the employees the chance to find a job without starving to death? I’m also relatively sure that in 10 years, Berkeley County has generated more than $650k worth of taxes from the employees that would have otherwise not have had jobs.

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CNSYD January 27, 2014 at 11:26 am

For the 1000th time! Stop with the logic! Sic Willie does not like anyone poking holes in his stories.

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Jackie Chiles January 27, 2014 at 11:35 am

On the one hand, he’s bashing the company for closing its doors and screwing the employees out of the opportunity to look for new jobs while they were employed. On the other hand, he’s opposed to unemployment insurance which basically lets them do the exact same thing.

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SCBlueWoman January 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

And, according to the article, it looks like he’s all for the gubmint regs that the employer of over 100 people needs to give 60 day notices. You’re either for or agin gubmint regs?

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Manray January 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

I’ll be looking out for Haley’s press conference announcing this news. I suspect to be waiting a long time.

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Torch January 28, 2014 at 10:16 am

Waiting for a picture of her standing outside of the plant with a shovel throwing dirt on the building or at least the business sign.

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Rocky January 27, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Not to worry – Nikki is the “jobs” governor. Besides, these folks can move to Savannah – I read a nice article on Delta flight yesterday about how things are booming down there because of the port expansion. SC doesn’t really have a port, just little old Charleston and Nikki stabbed them in the back.

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Robert January 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Research Patriarch Partners and Lynn Tilton. I’ve lived through her “rebuilding” of a company. She is a master of the legal loansharking that “distress lending” is. LaFrance had problems prior to her, but she sealed their doom.

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upstate January 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm

I’ve dealt with these yahoo’s through my current company, and with my previous employer, about 9 years in all. I am not surprised in the least by this news. Best I can tell, aside from their high level management issues, there was no one there that had any clue when it comes to cash flow management. Profitable or not, a lack of cash flow management is a surefire way to sink any company.

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