Rutland Herald
February 4, 1982

Marble Plant to Close; 15 Workers Laid Off

By Tom Mitchell
Florence – Approximately 15 workers will be laid off Friday with the official closing of one of OMYA’s two crushed marble plants located on Whipple Hollow Road here.

The plant’s remaining five to eight employees will continue to fill the current orders for "coarse" crushed marble at the plant which will operate in an unofficial capacity after Friday, OMYA Vice President E. Van Schwiebert said Wednesday.

The company is making an effort to find jobs for the employees elsewhere in the company, Van Schwiebert said.

The "coarse" marble grinding plant is the older of two crushed marble plants located next to one another in Florence.

As a result of old, deteriorating machinery, the company has decided that it is not economical to continue operation of the plant, which opened in the late 1960s.

This means the company is discontinuing its production of crushed marble for lawns and garden, rail beds and farmer’s fields. Quarrying operations are not affected by the shutdown, Van Schwiebert said.

The shutdown affects a total of about 20 employees, including 12 plant workers and eight other managerial and sales people.

Frank Stafford of Wallingford, a salesman at the plant for past nine years said, "I understand the plant is closing."

Stafford said he was somewhat surprised by the closing. "These days you have to keep this kind of thing in the back of your mind," he said.

OMYA is a sister company of the Vermont Marble co. which temporarily laid off about 45 people in Proctor last week.

The closing of the older OMYA plant in Florence does not affect the newer "superfine" crushed marble facility. About 120 to 140 employees are employed with the new plant’s operation, which is considered to be healthy and growing, Van Schwiebert said.

"It’s going great guns," said Van Schwiebert who said the company has decided that the prospect for future sales of "superfine" and "ultra-fine" marble dust is better than for the "coarse" crushed marble.

The new marble mashing facility was built next to the company’s older plant, once known as the Vermarco Ground Products plant, when Vermarco was a subsidiary of the Vermont Marble Co.

The superfine marble dust produced at the new plant – calcium carbonate – is used in the manufacturing of toothpaste, paper and other products.

Continued "unofficial" operation of the plant is intended to reduce outstanding crushed marble inventory, Van Schwiebert said.

The decision to close the plant is the result of recent problems with old equipment, Van Schwiebert said. One grinding machine, the "Raymond Mill," manufactured in 1927, is now failing. The antique grinding machine was moved from the Vermont Marble co.’s West Rutland plant in 1943, when other equipment moves to other company locations were begun.

Additional dated equipment at the plant includes conveyors, shoots, tubes and additional crushing equipment.

A revitalization of the plant would not be economical, Van Schwiebert said, explaining that the company has conducted constant efficiency reviews during the current economic recession.

Van Schwiebert reaffirmed Tuesday the layoff of marble company employees in Proctor should last no more than two to four weeks, after the company receives fabricating information on two projects.

OMYA, Callahan Ams and Vermont Marble are owned by Pluess Stauffer, a Swiss firm which has business interests in California and Indiana.