Citing a "crushing depression" in the large truck/trailer economic sector, Benson will idle its Cadiz, Kentucky, plant effective at some point in August.
"Soaring fuel costs have effectively caused many very large trucking companies out of business," Corporate Human Resources Manager John Earles said. "For example, Jevic Trucking closed its doors two weeks ago, eliminating 1,500 jobs. Platform trailer sales mirror housing starts. The collapsed housing industry has effectively ended the requirement for these type units. The increased cost of oil combined with a weak dollar has created the steepest cost increase in steel, aluminum, tires and other related materials in the history of modern manufacturing. Some steel items have increased up to 100% since December. Heavy demand by the Chinese and Indian markets have added to the run-up in costs.
"Thus, Benson and its host of competitors have seen orders for trailers from the trucking companies drop up to 80% in recent months. Several of Bensons' competitors have idled plants during this period.
"Large truck manufacturers such as Kenworth, Mack and others are seeing the same effects. Freightliner just announced the layoff of nearly 3,000 employees due to this depression in the industry. The announcement by General Motors that they are closing four more assembly plants is another hit to steel haulers that transport steel on heavy versions of platform trailers."
Earles indicates that recent data from all the leading economists for this industry see no end in sight for at least the next three years.
"The workforce and management team of Cadiz are superb," he said. "Their efforts have nothing to do with this situation. It is entirely economic in nature. There are strong efforts being taken to reopen the plant in one form or another when and if the economic climate improves."