A Knox County manufacturing plant is now in new hands.
Company officials at Manitowoc, owners of Jackson MSC, confirmed the Monday sale of Jackson Warewashing business to Hoshizaki USA Holdings Inc.
Specific terms of the asset sale were not released.
Meanwhile, United Steel Workers staff representative Tim Dean, who works out of the USW Frankfort office, said he met Monday with the new company president and attorneys regarding the future of around 180 Union workers at the plant.
Dean said the company has indicated that it will continue to operate as a Union-represented facility.
"They aren't willing to accept the current contract," Dean said. "Our contract is set to expire in April."
He said that as a condition of the sale, Hoshizaki agreed to hire all of the current employees - employees who are now working under guidelines set forth in a company handbook.
Dean said that company and Union officials will be going to the bargaining table in an attempt to work out a new contract, adding that they are currently looking at their calendars to determine when such negotiations may begin.
He said there is no way to predict how long it will take to hammer out a new agreement, adding that negotiations can range in length from a few days to several weeks.
Although it is too early to speculate on a possible outcome of negotiations, Dean said the Union cannot rule out a strike.
"It is not our desire to have a work stoppage," he said, adding that the company has changed many things from the way they have previously been done. "It has changed drastically over the way it used to be," he said, adding that he is confident that an agreement can be reached.
"I'm optimistic that we can get in and out," Dean added.
Attempts to reach Jackson MSC officials at the Gray plant were
“The sale of the Jackson product line reinforces our commitment to our core commercial foodservice business, while enabling us to direct resources toward areas that further our strategic initiatives and drive profitable growth,” said Glen E. Tellock, Manitowoc’s chairman and chief executive officer.
The Jackson MSC Knox County plant first opened in the 1980s when a company called Manufacturer's Service Corporation merged with Jackson.
The latest ownership change came in 2008 when the Wisconsin-based Manitowoc Corporation took over the plant.
Jackson Warewashing is a producer of warewashing systems used primarily by institutions and large commercial kitchens.
According to company officials, the Knox plant has an annual payroll of about $6.5 million.