The C.E. White Co., a leading manufacturer of school bus seats, announced it is closing its South Hutchinson/Yoder facility in Kansas on Jan. 31.
The company had a three-year contract with Collins Bus Corp. to build a seat designed by Collins, and moved closer to its headquarters in 2008 to reduce shipping costs.
C.E. White President and CEO Tony Everett said the closure has been somewhat overblown by local media.
“Despite what has been reported, this is not a true job loss, not a true industry slowdown. One plant will be shutting its doors, and another plant will be opening its doors right down the street,” said Everett, referring to Indiana-based IMMI, who is moving into the former Hardwood Cabinets building in Burrton to make seats for Collins and another area bus company.
“We were a contracted manufacturing agent for the Collins seats, and we were on a three-year contract that has since expired. It was rotated to another company, that’s all,” he added. “They were great to work with, and now they’re moving to the next phase — and so are we.”
Everett said C.E. White will be opening two new facilities in the next nine months but is not yet ready to announce the locations. Typically, he explained, the company opens a plant “wherever our customers are,” such as the facility in Ft. Valley, Ga., next to Blue Bird Corp. It will continue doing business out of its New Washington, Ohio facility and other North American satellite facilities.
“We’ve had five years straight of double-digit growth, and we’re still projecting growth for 2012. We continue to grow in school bus, but we are also focusing on other revenue streams,” Everett said, noting that C.E. White will continue to sell to and service Collins, along with the other major OEMs. “Actually, we have more than doubled in size.”