The Republic Masthead

WindStream hopes to recall workers; Onspot expects no staff cuts


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NORTH VERNON — One Jennings County company has been sold, while another remains hopeful it will be able to recall workers who have been laid off for nearly two months.

On Tuesday, Dan Bates, president and CEO of WindStream Technologies, said the odds of obtaining capital that will allow the reopening of his company’s North Vernon facility remain good.

“We have a few things in play at the moment,” he said. “We’re hoping to have a deal in place by next week.”

However, Bates said he preferred not to provide details, adding a public misstatement on his part might jeopardize negotiations.

The 4-year-old New Albany-based wind turbine manufacturer furloughed its North Vernon workforce in October after a braking mechanism problem was discovered last summer. Bates ordered a halt to all shipments out of Jennings County and reportedly paid his employees out of his own pocket until the layoffs were announced.

More than 30 WindStream employees were furloughed after a group of investors from India did not provide the company with capital by the established deadline.

While a solution to the braking problem reportedly has been worked out, Bates said in October he could not find new investors while the deal with the group from India was legally valid.

Onspot of North America

VBG, a Swedish engineering group, recently purchased all shares of Onspot of North America, an automatic tire chain manufacturer located in North Vernon. No employee reductions are anticipated.

“Under the sales agreement, we will continue to be a standalone company,” Onspot CEO Patrick Freyer said. “That basically means we have done our own thing for the last 24 years and will continue to do so. Nothing will change.”

Freyer, who will continue as the company’s top administrator, added that when two VGB executives met with the full staff a week ago Friday, there were 30 employees. However, 29 employees showed up for work the following Monday.

“That’s because (former majority owner) Irvin French retired from the company at age 75,” Freyer said. “But Irvin has interest in three other businesses, so I’m sure he’ll keep busy.”

Onspot of North America has annual sales of about $8 million. According to the VBG website, the purchase price was approximately $10 million.

With the acquisition, the VBG Group claims it has become the global leader in automatic tire chains.

The brand Onspot is the original product for automatic tire chains for heavy vehicles. The Onspot tire chain was invented in 1977 by a Swedish company, which was acquired by the VBG Group in the 1990s.

Since then, Onspot has been a licensee of the group, with the right to manufacture and sell Onspot tire chains in the U.S. and Canada.

“We have had a very good business relationship with Onspot of North America for many years,” said VBG President and CEO Anders Birgersson. “We know that we are buying a well-run and profitable company.”

The transaction was completed on the last day of

November.

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