Panasonic Home appliances will close Danville plant

Panasonic plant in Danville, Ky.
Panasonic plant in Danville, Ky. Lexington

Panasonic Home Appliances will begin closing its Danville plant in March, which will mean the loss of 80 engineering jobs. At one time, the plant employed more people than any other factory in Danville.

Danville Mayor Mike Perros said he and other local officials learned of the closing Thursday morning from J.D. Lewis, vice president of administration with the Lebanon Road plant.

The elimination of positions will be implemented in stages, with final closing in March 2017, Perros said.

“It means the loss of 80 higher-paying jobs,” Perros said. That means the loss of about $75,000 in payroll taxes to the city of Danville, he said.

“You never want to hear of any elimination of jobs,” Perros said. “But at same time, it put a finality on what you knew was going to happen sometime, some way, somehow.”

Whirlpool opened the plant in 1971 to make dishwashers and trash compactors. In 1990, Whirlpool and Matsushita entered into a joint venture to operate the plant and make vacuum cleaners sold under the Panasonic brand and other names. It later added production of microwave ovens.

In 1997, the plant employed about 2,000 people, making it the largest manufacturing employer in Boyle County at that time.

In August 2000, Matsushita announced it would close its microwave division and lay off 480 people.

In 2006, Panasonic announced it would move production to Monterrey, Mexico, to compete with low labor costs.

The Panasonic announcement comes on the heels of Caterpillar’s news in November that it will close its Danville plant, which will mean the loss of 75 jobs.