Looks like it's a done deal! Too bad. Another firearms factory in New England gone forever.
By MATT APUZZO Associated Press March 17, 2006, 1:40 AM EST
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Despite a two-month search for a buyer to take over the historic Winchester rifle factory, the plant will close at the end of the month, Mayor John DeStefano said Thursday.
City and union leaders scrambled to find a buyer in January after the Herstal Group, a Belgian manufacturer, said it would close the U.S. Repeating Arms plant, the storied Connecticut assembly line that produced the "The Gun that Won the West."
"It's going to go dark," DeStefano said Thursday. "There's no buyer, no closing, nothing that puts this together that soon."
DeStefano said negotiations over the plant's future continue. Earlier this month, he offered to buy the plant for $1 and promised to excuse $17 million in taxes and contract penalties that city attorneys say Herstal will owe New Haven and the labor union when the plant closes.
Herstal CEO Philippe Tenneson rejected the deal and, in a letter to the city last week, disputed its financial calculations. Tenneson also said the company has lost millions on the factory in recent years.
"Very few groups, other than ours, would have exhibited such a combination of investment commitment and operational patience," Tenneson wrote.
More than 19,000 Winchester employees worked in New Haven during World War II, but after years of a softening firearms market, the plant now employs fewer than 200. All will lose their jobs when the plant closes.
Negotiations to find a new owner are closely tied to discussions over the future of the Winchester name. Herstal wants to discontinue the traditional rifle but keep the name on specialty weapons it produces overseas.
"We want to give Winchester a new future, not looking over our shoulder at the past, at the products with which we lost a lot of money," Herstal spokesman Robert Sauvage said Thursday.
Without the Winchester name, however, New Haven's factory isn't as attractive. DeStefano hopes a new owner will restart the assembly line under the Winchester name.
But the name belongs to the Olin Corp., of Missouri, which licenses Herstal to use it until next year. Olin spokeswoman Ann Pipkin says closing the New Haven plant would violate Herstal's license agreement and allow Olin to find a new home for the Winchester name.
Such a deal would have to be negotiated separately from the factory's sale, but DeStefano said he hopes everyone _ Olin, Herstal, the city and a buyer _ can find common ground.
DeStefano wouldn't say how long the city will wait before trying to collect the $17 million. He said he didn't want to threaten a company he's negotiating with but said the city will collect the money when the time is right.
Nobody seems to care...shame...
Smith and Wesson eyes Winchester Arms plant - story by Jodi Latina
(New Haven-WTNH, Mar. 22, 2006 Updated 12:45 PM) _ There is cautious optimism over the future of the New Haven Winchester plant. The factory, which employees 200, is slated for closure at the end of the month.
Smith and Wesson is coming to the city, but at this point there is only a tentative plan to sit down and talk. Workers at the U.S. Repeating Arms plant only have two paychecks left; they are out the door in less than ten days.
At this point officials from the city and the company agree there is no way their jobs can be saved. What everyone is working on is getting a gun manufacturer to buy the plant so at some point it can be back up and running.
"We'll, we're gonna talk, and I think that's where would should be, right now, at the point of talking. And I don't want us to get ahead of ourselves. Right now the objective is how do we keep the company on the tax rolls; how do we keep jobs there? We want to keep the Winchester name in the city. And we want to attract an operator who can do a good job," says Mayor John DeStefano
Mayor DeStefano says any deal to continue using the Winchester label would have to be approved by the Olin Corporation. They own the name to the rifle that many say “Won the West.” DeStefano says Olin is open to the idea.
Thats too bad. My father worked there in the late 50's early 60's when he was young. As a matter of fact he has given me a Winchester model 12 pump action 12ga. He said he assembled it himself. i am a little hesitant to beleive that, but hey he might have. Beautiful shotgun, even to this day it looks new. Has a diamond cut/etched receiver.
Lets all pitch in and run it Co-Op