“It’s very sad to lose that type of facility from this province,” said Greg Pretty, industrial-retail director at the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union-Unifor (FFAW), which represents the Paradise facility’s workers.
“It’s a really sad day for the employees, some of which have been there close 25 years,” he said.
Pretty said a Kento window and door manufacturing facility in Conception Bay South and another facility in Springdale — under the same company are also shutting down — though those plants aren’t represented by the FFAW.
The Telegram tried to reach someone at Kento, but has not been able to obtain a comment from the company at this time.
According to a notice of intention document filed with the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, Kento Ltd. lists $10.9 million in total liablities and assets of zero. The document was filed Monday.
Pretty said Acan’s Paradise facility workers were informed last week to finish up production, which could have been construed as regular seasonal layoffs.
However, some 35 people were given their layoff notice, whereas only 10 or 12 would be laid off due to seasonal slowdown in previous years.
“This time the nubmers were startling … that was very ominous sign at that point in time,” Pretty said. Over the weekend, union reps on staff at the plant noticed that materials were being removed from the office, another “telltale” sign the plant was headed for closure or sale.
On Wednesday, the union was told the owner had filed for bankruptcy, but Pretty said the FFAW was assured workers would be paid what they are owed. As a precaution, the union plans to file a statement of claim to ensure that happens.
Eight workers remain on site this week, Pretty said.
The new owner, Kento, took over the Octagon Pond Acan facility, which is more than 25 years old, about 11 months ago.
Pretty described the collective agreement reached with the owner as a good one, ratified by the skilled workers employed there.
Pretty said the other plants are unionized, but not part of FFAW.
Pretty said it’s difficult to say whether the economy contributed to the closure, noting Acan has weathered a number of peaks and valleys — when it was started the economy wasn’t good in the province and it got through the 2008 financial crisis.
“I am quite surprised at the turn of events,” he said.
However, he also pointed out that competition in the door and window industry has been heavy in recent years with players from all over trying to get in on the construction and reno boom before oil prices started to decline.
He said it’s obviously distressing to the employees who include newer workers, as well as those who suddenly find themselves out of work after more than 20 years on the job.
“What the future for that facility is, I don’t know,” Pretty said.
The former Acan Windows owner still retains the building, he said.