Janesville67.3°

Freedom Plastics hopes buyer will emerge

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 11, 2009
— Freedom Plastics employees in Janesville will be laid off in April unless a buyer steps forward and decides otherwise, a move current company owners are hopeful will happen.

The Janesville manufacturer of PVC pipes and fittings has notified the state that 104 workers will be laid off permanently April 8 or 14 days thereafter.


Saddled by a depressed construction economy and mounting debt, Freedom said last week that it would enter court-supervised receivership in the hopes a buyer could be found.


In a letter to the state, receiver Michael Polsky said Freedom—as it is now—will close its operation at 215 S. Arch St.


"While we strongly believe that a new owner will continue operating the facility and will retain the current employees, we do not know that for sure," Polsky wrote.


The company's auction has been set for Monday, March 2.


In a technical sense, Freedom will not be the company laying off workers in April, since it's likely a new owner will control the company by then.


Steve Scaccia, Freedom's president and one of its owners, said the company should continue to operate until a buyer is found. He's hopeful that the new owner will retain the employees in Janesville.


"We're cautiously optimistic that all parties involved will be able to keep Freedom intact—although it may have a different name—and keep the jobs here," Scaccia said, adding that several potential buyers have expressed an interest in the company.


Scaccia said Freedom's Janesville plant has been perfectly maintained, is well run and is recognized nationwide for its efficiency. It would be prudent, he said, for a new owner to retain the workers who made that happen.


Freedom also has about 70 employees at plants in Idaho and Florida. Those employees also have received layoff notices.


Freedom supplies the wastewater, plumbing, irrigation and industrial markets. It's been hit by a national downturn in housing and construction markets, as well as price increases in the resins used to make PVC.


The company has spent heavily on workforce training and in 2007 completed an $8 million expansion at its Janesville plant.


Scaccia said that if the company can get through the current downturn, it's positioned to be a dominant force in the economic rebound, especially as an infrastructure stimulus package is debated in Congress.



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