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Fri, July 19

Prescott firm to close, lay off 90

PRESCOTT – A major area employer is axing 90 jobs and moving the bulk of its operations to Colorado.

ProChem, which designs and manufactures commercial carpet cleaners and related supplies, confirmed this past week that it plans to move its local manufacturing operations in the Prescott Industrial Airpark to another plant in Englewood, Colo., by March.

Those losing their jobs include welders and painters, as well as assembly and fabrication workers.

At one point, the company, which the Colorado-based Castle Rock Industries bought in April, 2000, was looking to expand its current local operations, which are in a 44,000-square-foot plant and a nearby 12,250-square-foot portion in the Communications Data Services (CDS) building on Wilkinson Drive.

Those plans, however, evidently changed after Castle Rock bought the company. Jane Bristol, an economic development specialist with the City of Prescott, said she tried to make a pitch to Castle Rock to keep its local plant open, but "we never even got to the table."

Susan Whitten, ProChem's director of human resources, said the company will vacate the CDS building by next month, and it will vacate the larger building no later than June 1.

Approximately six employees from ProChem's research, design and engineering departments will remain in Prescott, she said, because "that's not a talent we can move with the rest of the manufacturing process."

In addition to offering the 90 displaced workers severance and job-placement benefits, Castle Rock has offered them the opportunity to apply for jobs at the Englewood plant, she said, and about 20 percent of them have indicated interest.

"The majority of them are not going to leave Prescott, as their own personal choice," Whitten said.

Basically, she explained, Castle Rock is consolidating operations to save money. Both the Englewood and Prescott plants each currently operate at 30-percent capacity. Since the two plants make similar equipment, the company will not need to re-tool the Colorado plant, which is larger and more modern, and thus "the logical choice to move to," Whitten said.

ProChem will continue to maintain its corporate headquarters and chemical manufacturing plant in Chandler, where it employs 65 workers.

(For more news about the Prescott Airpark, consult today's Business section, Page 1D.)

Contact Chad Simpson at csimpson@prescottaz.com.

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