Closure of 88-year-old operation affects 70 employees

After 88 years of business, Beaverton-based Mercer Industries, manufacturer of Mercer Windows, plans to wind down manufacturing operations at its Southwest Denney Road facility and close by this summer.

Citing lingering effects of the Great Recession, which saw a drastic slowdown in housing and commercial construction, the closure of the plant will affect approximately 70 employees, including management, sales staff and production workers.

Staffing will be adjusted to complete existing orders, after which the plant at 10760 S.W. Denney Road will close, said Dan Boverman, Mercer’s chief restructuring officer. He and a member of the Mercer family shared the news with employees at a Monday morning all-staff meeting.

“The layoffs will take place over a period of time, probably two to three months,” Boverman said. “We made an announcement and answered all questions.”

The announcement included a revamped severance policy in which employees will receive one week of pay for each year of service, from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of eight weeks.

“Many employees have been with this company for a long time,” Boverman noted.

Founded in 1926 as Mercer Steel, the privately held Mercer Industries most recently manufactured commercial and residential vinyl and aluminum frame window and door products, with an emphasis on energy efficiency, safety and innovation, noted Jim Rauh, the company’s business relations liaison.

The company’s board of directors commissioned a third-party business and financial analysis of its manufacturing and sales operations that concluded an “orderly winding down of operations” was the only course of action to preserve remaining value in the organization’s assets, which include several proprietary window design technologies.

The company hopes to sell the manufacturing assets, but cannot continue normal operations during the search for a qualified buyer, noted Boverman, who was brought on board to advise the company and help manage the operation’s shutdown.

“The (Mercer) family tried to avoid this throughout the recession and graciously supported the company through some very significant losses,” he said, adding shareholders have gone to “extraordinary lengths” to sustain the company during the downturn. “But the company lacks the scale to compete in an increasingly competitive market dominated by much larger corporations.

“There has been some resurgence in demand, but not one adequate enough to restore the company to profitability,” he added.

The company is not declaring bankruptcy and carries “almost no debt.”

Mercer will honor its sales, warranty, supplier, employee and other commitments.

“We anticipate all creditors will receive payment in full,” Boverman said.

While the possibility exists of another window company acquiring Mercer’s business and assets, nothing is set in stone at this time, Boverman said.

Recognized with a Beaverton 4 Business award at a June 22, 2012, City Council meeting, Mercer helped usher dual-glazed windows into the region, and welded vinyl windows and doors. Products included the R-5 insulated triple-pane window and the Little Tot window opening control device, which was designed to protect children from window falls.

“Clearly, the company and those operations affiliated with it historically were major contributors to the economy and community in Portland,” Boverman said.

Contract Publishing

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