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PermianLide closing Kilgore plant, laying off workers

By Ken Hedler
Feb. 17, 2017 at 9:03 a.m.

The Permian Tank & Manufacturing plant in Kilgore is closing. As many as 70 workers could be losing their jobs within a month, officials said.

As many as 70 people could be laid off within a month from a Kilgore manufacturing plant as its parent consolidates operations in Troy.

Dallas-based PermianLide is closing its Permian Tank & Manufacturing Inc. plant in Kilgore, economic development officials said Thursday. PermianLide President Howard Seely was not available for comment.

"I know they are closing," said Amanda Nobles, executive director of the Kilgore Economic Development Corp. "I am sorry to lose them."

She said she did not know the closing date or how many employees would lose their jobs because she also had been unable to reach Seely by phone as of Thursday afternoon. However, she said Permian Tank & Manufacturing had as many as 70 employees at its plant at 3405 S. Henderson Blvd., which began in 1976 as Chevelier Tank.

KEDC aided Permian Tank in 2005 through an agreement that granted the company $50,000 on the condition that it invest $500,000, retain 60 jobs and create 10 more jobs, Nobles said. The company "successfully completed that contract with us."

She said she understands PermianLide's decision to shift production nearer the center of oil production in West and South Texas.

Still, she expressed concern about the employees who will lose their jobs.

About lunchtime Thursday, an employee who declined to give his name as he was leaving the front office said he was "Just happy to work here."

"They gave us four weeks of severance pay," he said. "That's it."

PermianLide had not notified the Texas Workforce Commission as of Thursday about the layoffs and pending plant closings, spokeswoman Lisa Givens said. The commission requires notifications if a Texas company plans to cut 50 or more jobs.

News of the plant's pending layoffs and closure came as a shock Thursday to Martha Woodruff, director of Workforce Development Continuing Education at Kilgore College.

"It's terrible that they are shutting down," Woodruff said.

Woodruff urged Permian Tank employees and others who lose their jobs to apply for one of three retraining programs at Kilgore College: commercial drivers license, advanced welding and industrial electrical technology. The college is making the programs available tuition free to displaced workers courtesy of a $500,000 federal grant that arrived in October.

Woodruff and other officials said at the time that the grant is sufficient to provide training for 100 people for programs that otherwise would cost them an average of $4,000. Acknowledging not everybody who loses a jobs want to retrain to become a truck driver or a welder, Woodruff said, "If people get laid off, it depends on their interest level."

Some of the employees could be a good fit for the retraining programs, Nobles said.

"I am thankful for what Permian has done for Kilgore over the years, supporting our community with jobs," she said.

For more information about the retraining programs, call workforce development at (903) 983-8288 or visit kilgore.edu/wdce.

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