Elgin Namesake Will Close Plant

By Edward D. Harrill
Business Editor

ELGIN – The Elgin National Watch Co., which opened a plant here in Kershaw County five years ago will soon be closed as the company phases out its watch – movement Manufacturing.

Company officials in Elgin, Ill., confirmed Friday that its watch – movement operations in the United States were being closed.

While the Elgin plant here will close probably within 120 days, it is believed that another corporation has already bought the property for an industrial operation. Anny’s plans presumably will be forthcoming in a few days.

Shutdown of the operations in Kershaw County, in the town where the name was changed from Blaney to Elgin when the plant came, will affect about 200 employes. The move will also affect about 75 employes in the Illinois plant.

The company will maintain its watch division headquarters and supporting activities in Elgin, Ill., according to Jerome W. Robbins, president and chief executive officer.

He also said the company has taken steps which are believed sufficient to bring job offers to most affected employes.

While the official statements from corporate headquarters did not say so it was generally felt by many in the company that low tariffs on watch imports led to the action. Kennedy Round tariff reductions furthered the problem.

Robbins said in Illinois that the decision to phase out domestic manufacturing was based on various economic factors, principally the competition of imported movements are generally much cheaper, reflecting the economies of the nation where they were made.

Robbins added that Elgin’s overseas operation which ments to the company for many years are being geared to handle the increased volume needs.

He added that the decision, “while most difficult to make, is necessary if Elgin is to remain competitive in the watch industry and continue its corporate progress.”

Elgin has been troubled with fiscal problems in recent times, and in the first quarter of 1967 the company had a decline in both sales and earnings.

Company officials said that Friday’s decision will result in a long – range benefit to the company.

The company has manufactured jewel movements for its watches since it was founded 103 years ago. In recent years, it was one of only three American companies to calluy such jewel movements.

Elgin began construction of its plant near here in 1962 and was formally dedicated in March 1963. At the peak of its production there were 480 employes.

Amid the fanfare involved in the plant’s coming was the changing of the town’s name from Blaney to Elgin. There was no word on Friday night on the future of the town’s name.

September 16, 1967  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
Page 1
September 16, 1967  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
Page 8

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