AirTex Cutting Jobs at Marked Tree Plant

June 13, 2006 -- Posted at 6:50 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- For a town the size of Marked Tree, the loss of 120 jobs at the AirTex plant is a major economic blow.

"They have been a good corporate citizens. They keep a neat plant, they usually work three shifts, so it is a big impact on the community," said Marked Tree Mayor Lawrence Ashlock.

The AirTex plant, which builds water and fuel pumps, is losing the jobs to another plant in Ohio.

"If they can build it cheaper somewhere else, that's what they like to do," said Ashlock.

For AirTex, who employ more than 350 people at their Marked Tree plant, it was a tough call to cut 120 valuable Poinsett County workers.

"Obviously, it's a sad day for this community, that wasn't in the people's control. We regret this decision had to be made in this competitive market, but it was a decision that had to be made," said AirTex plant manager Keith Crooks.

In addition, AirTex says down the line their could be more job losses and even the possibility for a plant closure. But for now, the town will focus on the jobs they still have.

"The original equipment line will employ around 200 people. They'll be here six, 10 or 12 months and then they will re-evaluate it. The plant might not close after that," said Ashlock.

Mayor Ashlock said the mood around town has been pretty bad this week, but they aren't giving up hope.

"We are planning for it staying open," said Ashlock.

Monday employees were informed about the job losses and AirTex expects those cuts to take effect before the end of the year.

Mayor Ashlock is upbeat that those who lost their jobs won't be forced to move from Marked Tree. He says the presence of other manufacturing plants like Denso, Hino and Maverick should provide a number of job opportunities.