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N. Ind. ambulance plant with 165 workers closing

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) -- A northern Indiana factory where 165 workers build ambulances will be shut down by its new owner in a decision announced a week after the same company said it would close a nearby recreational vehicle plant with about 500 workers.

SJC Industries has notified the state Department of Workforce Development that it will start terminating employees in July from the ambulance factory in Elkhart as it completes production work there.

Allied Specialty Vehicles, a subsidiary of a New York-based private equity firm, bought SJC Industries this month from Thor Industries of Elkhart.

Hans Heinsen, vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Allied Specialty Vehicles, said Tuesday that the company's purchase agreement required it to relocate the ambulance production.

"It is therefore our intent to transition production to our Winter Park, Fla., site during the next three to six months," Heinsen told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/182TFcL).

SJC Industries built the McCoy Miller ambulance model, which dated in Elkhart to 1974 when its original owners, Dick McCoy and Lester Miller, got involved in the ambulance industry. The company has changed owners several times over the years.

Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, said several site selectors have already contacted the agency wanting to market the factory in the city about 15 miles east of South Bend.

"So we are already in motion," she said.

Allied Specialty Vehicles said last week that it would close the Monaco RV factory in the Elkhart County town of Wakarusa after buying it from Navistar Inc. The company plans to move production from Wakarusa to a factory in Decatur, about 20 miles south of Fort Wayne.

Allied executive Jim Meyer said its purchases of the two Elkhart-area companies were not related.

Meyer said the Wakarusa RV factory won't accept new production orders and that its work will wind down in August.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com