The Racine-headquartered manufacturer of thermal management technology, which laid off 20 managers here and cut post-retirement medical benefits less than three weeks ago, announced today that it is building a new manufacturing plant -- in Austria.
The company says it broke ground in Kottingbrunn, Austria, in September, it said, "to meet increasing demand for condensers from European automotive customers. Production is scheduled to start in the new facility in July 2009, with work being moved, in phases, from Modine's existing facility in Berndorf, Austria, by November 2009. In addition, the company has committed additional financial resources to expand its North American condenser manufacturing capabilities.
The company's statement continues:
"Modine has enjoyed a strong reputation in condenser technology dating back to the issuance of our first parallel flow (PF(TM)) condenser patent in 1986," said Paul Byrne, Modine's Managing Director - Global Powertrain Cooling Products. "Recent developments in condenser technology, including our Origami(TM) next generation heat exchanger tube, have strengthened our competitive position and heightened the need to enhance our global capabilities and continue to expand our refrigerant-based product line."On Oct. 1, when the job cuts here were announced, Modine said it was "restructuring" U.S. operations to increase cash flow. The 20 jobs eliminated accounted for 15 percent of its managers in Racine.
To fully leverage opportunities for its global condenser business, Modine has established a Refrigerant Components team within its Powertrain Cooling Group. Under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Memory, who has been appointed Director- Global Refrigerant Components, the new organization will be responsible for driving global standardization and new-product development activities for condensers and other emerging refrigerant component and system opportunities, as well as leading the company's North American condenser application engineering activities.
"Shifting our condenser-focused activity to our powertrain cooling initiatives fits well with our strategic business focus," said Byrne. "We are committed to developing front-end heat exchangers either for sale as individual components or as part of higher value-added integrated modules. This newly established center of excellence for refrigerant-based components and systems will position us to design and produce condensers that will satisfy increased customer demands for better performance and lighter weight."