Kings Electronics to close Rock Hill plant, lay off 67

Kings Electronics will close its Rock Hill plant at the end of the month and lay off its work force, according to a report released Friday by the S.C. Commerce Department.

After moving to Rock Hill from New York 10 years ago in a cost-saving move, Kings Electronics around June 30 will lay off its 067-member work force at its plant at Waterford Business Park, where it makes coaxial connectors for the broadcasting, telecommunication and aviation industries. Operations will move to company headquarters in Connecticut.

Kings was purchased by Winchester Electronics a year ago and said then downsizing was possible as part of the merger. In December, Winchester announced it would begin scaling down its 100-person Rock Hill staff and move to a new location.

"You have to interpret it for what it's worth. Downsizing means less people over time, but that's all we're prepared to say at this point," company spokesman Howard Geltzer told The Herald in December. "As far as how many or a timeline, I can't answer that."

When asked in December if the company's move would be to another Rock Hill location, Geltzer said those details were not available.

Geltzer could not be reached for comment Friday.

The Rock Hill plant was opened as Kings Electronics in 1998 after Kings moved operations from New York to Waterford. But the employer of more than 160 workers in the late 1990s was forced to lay off about 50 workers when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks slowed aircraft production at Boeing, a major Kings client.

After the purchase by Winchester, the company continued to employ about 100 workers at its Rock Hill site. Former Kings president Bob Dock, who is no longer with the company, in May said the merger would benefit customers because Winchester had a strong technical and manufacturing background.

Winchester maintains operations in Rock Hill, Connecticut, China, Mexico and Malaysia and employs about 800 people worldwide.