Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 23, 2013

Peru company lays off all workers

Conforce shuts down factory twice in two years.

By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer

— PERU — A Peru company that anticipated creating 175 jobs has for the second time laid off all its employees to tweak its product called EKO-FLOR, a new type of flooring used in shipping trailers.

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 line to make sure EKO-FLOR met consumer standards.

In August, Conforce reopened one of its production lines and re-hired eight people.

Last month, the company once again laid off all employees to retool its equipment a second time, said Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority.

“It’s kind of a bad situation,” he said. “They’ve got a great location and a great product. I think it will meet a need in the shipping industry. They just need to get their product fine-tuned.”

EKO-FLOR is 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.

Conforce hasn’t indicated when it will start rehiring workers, Tidd said.

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

Peru officials denied the company two tax abatements last year because it failed to meet investment and hiring requirements.

Tidd said the city and county will continue to work with Conforce, which could provide a economic boost to the area.

“Hopefully they’ll be up and running soon and begin rehiring workers,” he said.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.