Trane’s Lexington HVAC plant will close by the end of 2019, with 600 hourly employees losing their jobs.
Ingersoll Rand, Trane’s parent company, said in a release Thursday afternoon that it is consolidating operations at its 1 million square-foot plant in Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina plant has land for expansion, according to Ingersoll Rand.
Regarding the employee layoffs in Lexington, the statement said that the company takes “all actions that impact our valued and tenured associates seriously. We are committed to supporting employees with competitive severance packages, on-site employee assistance program services, job placement services and the opportunity to apply for jobs at other company locations.”
Trane plans to hire more than 750 employees in South Carolina in fields including assembly, machinery, manufacturing software support and engineering. Trane announced in August, 2017 that it planned to invest $96 million and expand its Columbia plant. The facility then employed 600 workers.
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At the time, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Trane’s announcement showed that the state had “worked hard to create a pro-business environment and our efforts continue to pay off.”
The official Lexington response to the plant closing was more somber.
“A plant closing is never good news but thankfully Lexington’s robust economy and low unemployment will help Trane’s employees as they seek new jobs,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray Thursday. “I’ve already asked our team to work with the Trane employees so they can bring value to the many strong companies in Lexington.”
Trane opened its Lexington plant in 1963 and by 1965 was planning a $2 million addition, making Lexington’s Trane plant the company’s second largest.
Trane plainly caught the wave of increasing popularity of air conditioning. In announcing the 1965 Lexington plant expansion, Trane president Thomas Hancock said the company benefited from “the expanding nature of the air conditioning market due to more widespread use of air conditioning in buildings of all types.”
The Thursday release from Ingersoll Rand said that Trane’s intent “is to support U.S. growth by transitioning and consolidating production of similar commercial HVAC products to a single location in Columbia, South Carolina — increasing efficiency, improving customer service and scaling for future business and workforce growth.”
Trane operates one other Kentucky plant, a compressor plant in Campbellsville. In Lexington, it made components and units for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Trane also plans to work with the union in Lexington “to fulfill legal obligations concerning collective bargaining and what the plan means for the represented employees,” according to the release.
Officers for United Auto Workers Local 912, which represents Trane employees, could not immediately be reached for comment.