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Bernzomatic departure is latest to hit Orleans County

Bernzomatic’s plant in Medina will close by mid 2014, eliminating 174 jobs and marking the departure of another major employer in Orleans County.

Ohio-based parent company Worthington Industries said it will consolidate the Medina plant’s operations with another facility it has in Chilton, Wis. Bernzomatic makes hand torches.

Worthington said the consolidation is expected to reduce internal freight expenses and maximize its available capacity at the Wisconsin plant, where Worthington already makes hand torch fuel cylinders.

Employees of the Medina plant will have the opportunity to transfer to the Chilton facility, and severance and outplacement services will be provided to workers who do not stay with the company, Worthington said.

Worthington bought Bernzomatic in July 2011 from Irwin Tool Co., a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid. Worthington said the transaction price was $51 million, $10 million of which was allocated to the settlement of litigation.

Bernzomatic began using the Medina facility in 1969. The company became a division of Newell Rubbermaid in 1982.

In 2006, Benzomatic reversed an announced decision to move production from Medina to China, in return for $625,000 in state and federal aid. At the time, the company had 213 jobs.

Orleans County is already coping with the impending loss of another major employer: JPMorgan Chase’s 413-employee call center in Albion, which will close in early September. Efforts are under way to place the call center workers in new jobs, either with JPMorgan Chase or with other employers.