By T.J. Hug
The Village Reporter
There are few things more difficult to deal with than one losing their job. The security of a consistent paycheck ripped away, suddenly the future is filled with uncertainty and dread.
Of course, those feelings are compounded ten fold when one has done absolutely nothing wrong to deserve them.
For the moment, at least, it appears as though this is exactly what employees of the A. Schulman plant in Stryker are about to go through.
“Based on a variety of factors…we have decided to consolidate our North American production capacity to drive efficiencies.”
These were the words A. Schulman’s Chief Operating Officer, Bernard Rzepka, used to describe the closing of the company’s Stryker facility. For those who don’t speak corporatese, or would maybe rather communicate directly rather than dress up the truth in fluffy, deceptive language, here is what Rzepka is saying.
We have too many plants that do the same thing and Stryker is the odd man out.
The factory in question was one of five to come under A. Schulman’s ownership after they bought out the Ferro Corporation, four of which are located in North America, with the fifth being stationed in Spain. The purchase was announced on June 4, 2014, and was A. Schulman’s ninth acquisition in a four year span.
The closure is set to take effect six months from now, in April, and is projected to save the company four million dollars per year, though it will cost them three million dollars initially to do so. With that much time before the factory closes its doors, there is a question as to whether it can be prevented.
“At this point, we’re going to do everything we can to keep them in Stryker.” Dan Hughes, Mayor of the village, stated.
And just what would it take to do that?
“We’re still in the preliminary stages of researching.” Hughes said. “We’re looking into any and all possibilities.”
But how likely is it that they’ll find a way to do so?
This isn’t the first time an acquisition by A. Schulman has led to a quick closing of a facility. In 2010, upon purchasing McCann Color, Inc., it was announced that A. Schulman was closing its Polybatch Color Center in Sharon Center, Ohio. Their reasoning, much as it is with Stryker, was consolidation. The work of the Sharon Center facility was shifted to a McCann plant in North Canton.
While every situation is different, this does not bode well for the Village of Stryker. It seems as though it is A. Schulman’s modus operandi to get significantly larger through the purchasing of other corporations, only to reign in that growth through consolidation and redivision of labor.
That could leave the roughly seventy employees of the plant in a tight spot. Stryker Village officials, though prudent and optimistic about the prospects of A.Schulman changing their minds, aren’t without a back up plan, however. They are fully prepared to explore methods of attracting a new business to the facility, which is in excellent condition.
“It’s been fairly updated.” Hughes informed about the plant. “I hope it would be appealing to someone.”
Again, that’s not to say the administration is giving up on the idea that A. Schulman can be persuaded to stay in Stryker.
“That’s obviously a possibility.” Hughes acknowledged of A. Schulman leaving the area. “We’re hoping for the most positive outcome.”
And that outcome would most certainly have to include roughly seventy workers still being employed in six months.
T.J. Hug can be reached at