Dietrich division in Rock Hill to close

In efforts to save $9 million annually, Worthington Industries will close its Dietrich Metal Framing plant in Rock Hill and three in other cities by the end of May.

This decision will take about 35 jobs from the Rock Hill facility, which will maintain its steel processing operation, said Cathy Lyttle, vice president of corporate communications for Worthington Industries.

Worthington Industries, a diversified metal processing company grossing $3 billion annually, bought the 3162 Worthington Way facility in 1973. Metal framing lines were added to the steel processing plant in 2003, Lyttle said.

Around 60 steel processing employees won't be affected by the consolidation.

The Dietrich Metal Framing division announced Tuesday that four of its 26 plants would be consolidated and another downsized. Lyttle said she anticipates these closures will be completed by the end of May.

"There will be a transition," Lyttle said. "We want to create more synergies, looking at where lines make sense in the country."

The decision to close the Rock Hill plant was based on asset utilization. Lyttle said the closing metal lines were either under-performing or would be more useful in another location.

Plants in Baltimore and McDonough, Ga., might pick up some of Rock Hill's work, Lyttle said.

In addition to Rock Hill, plants in East Chicago, Ind., Phoenix, Ariz. and Wilwood, Fla., are closing. A total of 165 employees are affected.

In closing these plants, the largest manufacturer of steel framing products in the country, is cutting nearly 8 percent of its 2,000 employees.

Some of the 35 employees losing jobs may be moved to a plant ramping up its operations with the consolidation, but Lyttle said there aren't enough jobs for everyone.

York County's unemployment rate ranks 40th in the state at 5 percent, according to South Carolina Employment Security Commission data released this week. The August figure is down from previous summer months.

A total of 5,150 York County residents were reportedly unemployed in August, the plant closing may raise that number.