News

Domestic Castings closed in Shippensburg, no plans for site

Written by Dale Heberling, Public Opinion Online | Jun 24, 2015 2:00 PM
domestic-casings-600x340.jpg

Domestic Casting Company, LLC, Shippesnburg, closed at the end of May. Public Opinion -- file.

(Shippensburg) -- Seventeen employees remain at work performing final shutdown operations at the Shippensburg Domestic Castings plant that ceased production May 29.

Co-owner Tom James said it's uncertain how long those 17 employees will remain at work. The closure idled 79 employees, James said. He added it's unclear how, or if, officials at the Ohio-based company will market and sell the 7.8-acre tract at the northernmost terminus of North Queen Street.

"I have not even considered that," James said when contacted Tuesday after weeks of unsuccessful efforts by the Public Opinion to contact him. According to Cumberland County tax records, the Domestic property has a tax assessment of $854,900 and includes office and manufacturing space of about 123,000 square feet.

Local real estate agents said there is no indication that the property is yet listed for sale, and a broker at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate brokerage in Harrisburg, said he was not aware of the developments. Shippensburg Township Secretary Linda Asper said the township was never informed of the closure of Domestic Castings.

Although officials at Shippensburg University and Shippensburg University Foundation said they are not presently pursuing ownership of the Domestic Castings property, SUF Marketing Director Anne Detter acknowledged that acquiring the property was once an objective. She said the foundation does, or did, have a purchase option in the form of a right of first refusal.

The property is situated at a strategic location in Shippensburg Township, between a 493-space parking lot owned by Shippensburg University Foundation and the adjoining Shippensburg University campus.

The foundation acquired the parking lot acreage from Domestic in a previous deal. That parking area connects to another foundation-owned parking lot and has access to the main campus and Britton Road, as well as Queen Street.

Only the Cumberland Valley Rails to Trails (CVRTT) corridor separates the main SU campus from the Domestic property that adjoins the Cora Grove Spiritual Center, which sits on Shippensburg University Foundation property and was dedicated in 2002 on the same side of the CVRTT as Domestic Castings.

In a statement released through SU's marketing department Tuesday, SU President Jody Harpster said the university is not involved in any purchase discussions for the Domestic site.

The statement reads, "There are no active conversations at the university about Domestic Casting since it was announced last week that it will close."

In response to follow-up questions, Laura Ludlum, SU's director of marketing and publications, said in an e-mail, "There has been no conversation between the University and the Foundation since the announcement was made. If any conversations happened in the past, it wasn't with President Harpster."

Ludlum suggested Detter may have more information.

In an e-mail exchange Tuesday, Detter said foundation officials currently are "not aware that the Domestic Castings property is for sale."

James -- who is also a principal in Liberty Castings in Ohio -- said his company acquired the Shippensburg plant from General Castings in 2003 and changed the name to Domestic Castings, a moniker that reflected the 1904 origins of the facility as Domestic Engine and Pump Company.

In a brief telephone conversation Tuesday, James said it was "no longer economically viable" to operate the Shippensburg plant that produced green sand castings.

He did not respond to questions about whether recent OSHA violations, with large fines attached, played a part in the decision.

According to OSHA website, Domestic was cited in January for the eighth time since 2011. Fines total $152,912 for 27 separate violations. Many of those infractions were repeat violations.

In a statement, OSHA Regional Director Leni Uddyback-Fortson said OSHA violations were not responsible for the Domestic closure.

"OSHA has no reason to believe that it is connected to the permanent closing of the Domestic Casting Company plant. OSHA's inspections of the plant were conducted as part of the agency's responsibility to assure that workers at the facility have a safe and healthful workplace."

Uddyback-Fortson said there were two open inspections of the plant at the time of the closure -- one prompted by a complaint and the other related to on-going abatement related to a prior citation.

Jonathan Bowser, director of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., said he has been is contact with state labor and industry officials, but is unaware of any interest by a potential buyer of the Domestic facility.

Bowser said his efforts focus on the displaced employees' future.

"We would like to work with the state to get those employees retrained or rehired at similar jobs in the region," he said.

Dale Heberlig can be reached at 262-4811.


This article comes to us through a partnership between Public Opinion Online and WITF. 

Published in Cumberland County, News

Tagged under ,

back to top

Post a comment

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »