Mayor: BRP closure 'devastating'

2012-09-18T07:00:00Z 2013-07-29T09:33:32Z Mayor: BRP closure 'devastating'BY BECKY MALKOVICH, The Southern The Southern
September 18, 2012 7:00 am  • 

BENTON — The sudden closure of boat manufacturer BRP’s Benton plant took workers and city leaders by surprise last week.

About 340 BRP employees were scheduled to return to work Monday after seasonal leave when the news came Friday.

The company, based in Valcourt, Quebec, Canada, said the decline in sales in the marine industry, especially those of sport boats, forced the closure of the Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. plant.

“It’s just devastating to the people who lost their jobs and to the people of Benton and Franklin County. BRP was probably one of the biggest employers in the county, if not the biggest,” Benton Mayor Gary Kraft said. “The boat industry has been the staple in Franklin County for 17 years. They moved in when the coal mines were shutting down.”

Kraft said he learned of the closure early Friday.

“I’m told the warehouses were still full from the spring, when they should have been empty,” he said. “Because of the national economy, people are not buying pleasure craft.”

The county had an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent in July, one of the highest in the state.

“It seems like we take two steps forward and three steps back,” Kraft said. “We’re going to see the effects. Revenue will start going down.

“Some of these people will have to leave the area to get jobs. It’s just a dismal situation.”

The company has promised a “good transition package” for affected employees and help may be available through the state’s Rapid Response Team, which offers assistance to dislocated workers, said Jamie Galli of Man-Tra-Con Corp.

Training services, job search assistance and other help could be made available for the former BRP workers.

“It all depends on the funding,” she said.

Since word of the layoffs just came Friday, planning for the response is in its early stages, Galli said. More information is expected in coming days.


On Twitter: @beckymalkovich

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(6) Comments

  1. USN420
    Report Abuse
    USN420 - September 18, 2012 10:46 pm
    Care to define your use of the word "interesting" in your post MickeeD?

    So WHAT? Bain Capital is not the CEO, COO, or CFO of BRP, Inc. They are a shareholder. In fact, they have been since 2003. They have held this "investment" for about 5-years longer than is the "norm" for their investment model.

    SInce BRP is a private company, detailed financial statements are not readily available, but industry publications and experts say BRP is doing very well in all it's markets EXCEPT the sport boat market, which only makes up 3% of it's overall business.

    BRP has tried to find a buyer for the sport boat division since 2008 with no takers, and has made the unfortunate decision to close this unprofitable portion of it's business.

    Why does Bain Capital even factor in to the discussion?

    I feel bad for my fellow Southern Illinoisans in Benton and I wish them well as they have to try and locate new jobs, but this has nothing to do with Bain Capital and has much to do with an overall poor economy that has removed disposable income of Americans to the point of not being able to justify the purchase of a jet boat.

    The fact of the matter is that "new" boat sales have been depressed for 4 to 5 years now. The boat market has been dominated by "used" boat sales. The only bright spot has been in the sale of "new" aluminum boats... WHY? Because they are cheaper.
  2. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - September 18, 2012 9:46 pm
    Yeah, but I get the feeling you'll still be unemployable.
  3. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - September 18, 2012 9:45 pm
    Interesting how Bain Capital has a 50% shareholder investment in Bombardier Recreational Products.
  4. daver852
    Report Abuse
    daver852 - September 18, 2012 8:52 pm
    Don't panic! President Obama has already created 4.5 million new jobs. Prosperity is right around the corner. If B, Hussein is reelected, there will be so many jobs we'll have to grant amnesty to 20 million Mexican illegals just to fill them!
  5. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - September 18, 2012 2:11 pm
    Now if Obama like boating, I bet the boat industry would of got a stimulus bailout just like the golf cart industry did.

    Get a free golf cart.
  6. Smitty
    Report Abuse
    Smitty - September 18, 2012 12:20 pm
    ..."because of the national economy, people are not buying pleasure craft"....the county had an unemployment rate of 12.5% in July......... And Obama says the economy is improving. How about a comment from Gary Forby?
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