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Emmetsburg IEI Plant To Close

By Staff | Jul 17, 2008

IEI, Emmetsburg, will be closing its doors.

General Manager Jim Hurd told members of Emmetsburg City Council Monday night that the decision was made to shut down the plant due to the downturn in the RV industry.

“If this plant was sitting in any other community, the decision would still have been the same,” Hurd said. “It’s nothing that the community did to create this circumstance. The RV industry has been hit real hard.”

IEI, a major producer for Winnebago Industries, has been owned by Robert Weed Plywood for the past four years.

“I am here to tell you how deeply I regret, and our parent company regrets, this (decision),” said Hurd. “It has become apparent that it (RV business) won’t come back any time soon.”

Currently there are 38 employees at IEI. The staff has been pared down as work dwindled. The first to be hit was motorized RVs and now even towable RV units are being hit.

“We do see it coming back and so does Winnebago, but it’s the turnaround time. We don’t expect anything in the next few months,” Hurd said.

Hurd told the council the shut-down would occur in a manner of months, not sooner than the end of August.

“We want to maintain good relations with the community, our employees and our customers,” said Hurd. “It’s the economy.”

“So far, since I’ve been here,” we’ve been fortunate that we haven’t had any businesses close that have employed that many people,” said Steve Heldt, economic development director for Emmetsburg. “With the economy the way it is, we just got caught in a ripple effect.”

Heldt also noted that the Regional Council of Governments is working in conjunction with Iowa Workforce Development to hold meetings with employees of IEI. They will be able to tell employees their options and what is available to them.

Ken Webb, former owner of IEI, informed the council that the building (located on Highway 18 east) will be available for lease or purchase for manufacturing. The building is 48,000 square feet.

Mayor’s Report

Emmetsburg Mayor John Schad discussed the matter of planting trees in the parking area (city right-of-way). He said the city ordinance does provide for residents to plant trees in the parking area, but there is a permit process.

“Apparently there was an ordinance change a few years ago,” said Schad. “Now a process is in place to make application to plant trees there. I don’t know that the city has granted an application. Is the city receptive to planting trees?”

Bill Dickey, public works director, said that under the old ordinance if the city paid for the tree to be removed the property owner was not allowed to plant another tree. When the Code was recodified, the ordinance does allow planting new trees.

“When we remove trees in the right-of-way, we take them down to the ground. It is up to the property owners to remove the stump,” explained Dickey. “Because underground utilities are located in the right-of-way, we prefer trees be planted on private property. I’m looking at the whole picture of managing, for financial purposes.”

Councilman Brian Campbell noted, “If the proper type of trees are planted, and not grow to interfere with the wires, it is an asset to the city and to their property, too.”

Councilman Pat Degen suggested leaving the ordinance as it is.

Mayor Schad thanked everyone on the city level for everything they did for the Sesquicentennial.

“The city was really very helpful,” he said. “We had a grand three-day celebration. The park was packed with people.”

Schad reported to the City Council that he is placing a letter in the Sesquicentennial Time Capsule (which will be buried tonight) along with a letter from the mayor of 1958. Contents of the time capsule will include items from the 1958 capsule, maps of the city, newspapers, cell phone with an owners manual, the Sesquicentennial book, and many DVDs from 1958 events and 2008 events. The mayor’s gift to the mayor of 2058 is a bottle of brandy. The items will be sealed in a box to keep moisture out.