Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

August 11, 2013

Conforce USA still shutdown after layoffs

Company still hasn't started re-hiring after projecting 175 new jobs.

PERU — A Peru company that anticipated creating 175 jobs still hasn’t started rehiring employees after laying off all its workers last year.

Conforce USA, located near the intersection of U.S. 31 and U.S. 24, began operation in May 2011 and initially hired around 25 production workers.

A year later, the company laid off all the employees, except management positions, after it decided to retool its production lines. In August last year, Conforce reopened one of its production lines and re-hired eight people.

In December, the company again laid off all employees to retool its equipment a second time.

Eight months later, the company still hasn’t indicated when it might begin production or start hiring new employees, said Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority.

He said the company stated through letter correspondence it was still retooling its product called EKO-FLOR, a composite flooring system that replaces traditional hardwood floors in semitrailers and other shipping containers.

The company says the flooring is lighter, stronger and completely resistant to stains, odors and absorption of oil and liquid chemicals.

“I still think it’s a great product and a viable concept,” Tidd said, noting trailer companies were excited when Conforce first introduced the product. “We’re hoping they can get things turned around with it so they can start hiring.”

The company originally anticipated employing 55 people by the end of the year, and bringing on 175 workers by the end of 2014.

Peru officials have denied the company two tax abatements for two years now because it failed to meet investment and hiring requirements.

“We’re staying hopeful and trying to work with the company to get it up and running,” Tidd said. “If they’re able to bring back those jobs, it’d be a tremendous boost to this area and the entire region.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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