Bluffton manufacturer closing plant; 100 jobs cut

BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) A Bluffton plastics goods manufacturer will shutter its plant and leave some 100 workers without work in the Wells County city.

Buckhorn Inc. in Bluffton is pictured on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis confirmed to NewsChannel 15 that Buckhorn Inc. plans to close its plant along Decker Drive. Ellis told NewsChannel 15 that Buckhorn executives “dropped this bombshell” in a Monday evening meeting with employees at the plant.

Buckhorn, which manufactures reusable packaging and material handling products, plans to consolidate its manufacturing operations in its Springfield, Missouri plant, according to Ellis.

The closure will affect about 100 employees in Bluffton, Ellis said.

“I had no idea [Buckhorn] was going to drop this bomb on us,” Ellis said. “They’ve been a good corporate citizen, and always willing to work with the city on projects it came as a complete surprise.”

Ellis said it was a decision executives felt they needed to make in the current market.

“This decision was undoubtedly made on the corporate level because I asked was there anything we could’ve done or still could do to keep you here in town,” Ellis said. “They said no that it was strictly a business decision.”

Ellis has no doubt everyone in town will likely know at least one person affected by the closure, but he calls the town resilient.

“It’s a good time to look for jobs,” Ellis said. “Not a week goes by I don’t have employers in my office looking for employees, highly trained employees.”

There is a job fair coming up in Bluffton. It will be Thursday March 9 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Arts, Commerce and Visitors Center located at 211 Water Street, Bluffton.

Bluffton Plant Manager Rick Singer did give NewsChannel 15 a statement about the closing over the phone Tuesday. He said the decision was ‘difficult.’ He said the transition will take place over time and will not impact customers. He said the main focus of the company is to support its employees during this transition that includes severance, benefits continuation and outpatient services. According to Singer, Buckhorn will work with Mayor Ellis, local businesses and state agencies to access available resources for employees.