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Brunswick to Close Factory

June 17, 2005|From Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Brunswick Corp. said Thursday that it would stop manufacturing bowling balls in the United States and shift production to Mexico, resulting in 115 layoffs at a plant in Muskegon, Mich.

The sporting goods company cited its inability to be competitive in the global marketplace despite numerous cost-cutting efforts at Muskegon.

The company said bowling ball production would be phased out within 24 months as it shifts the work to a plant under construction in Reynosa, Mexico. The company said that 275 sales and support jobs would remain in Michigan.

Brunswick announced the decision after informing the union representing employees at the Muskegon plant, where bowling balls have been manufactured for decades.

"We need to fundamentally alter our cost structure if the bowling ball business is to remain viable," CEO George Buckley said. "After discussions with union representatives, we have found that little more can be done to mitigate the relatively high labor costs of the current manufacturing operation when compared with an operation in Mexico."

Brunswick expects to incur transition costs of about $7 million over the next two years. It said the move would save the company $5 million to $6 million annually once the transition is complete in 2007.

The company has been in the bowling business since the late 1800s, but more than 80% of its $5.2 billion in 2004 sales came from boats and marine engines.

Shares of Brunswick rose 34 cents to $43.24.

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