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Company: W.A. Brown & Son closing permanent

Staff report
A letter given to W.A. Brown & Son employees says the companyís closing is ěexpected to be permanentî and blames an inability to secure financing to keep the business going.
The century-old Salisbury business closed its doors for good Friday, laying off 98 employees.
The letter, dated Nov. 6, which was also posted on the front door at W.A. Brownís 209 Long Meadow Drive plant today, says employees were told of the closing ěas soon as practicable.î
ěThe Company has been actively seeking continued financing resources which would have prevented the need for this layoff and the Company believed that earlier notice would have jeopardized these negotiations,î the letter says. ěThese negotiations appeared to have broken down last night, and we have been unable to locate other sources to continue funding the plantís operations.î
W.A. Brown notified the N.C. Employment Security Commission of the closing and job losses Friday, said Debbie Davis, manager of the state agencyís local office.
“They are asking us to treat it as a permanent layoff,” Davis said. “That was a surprise. They’ve been there a long time.”
W.A. Brown has manufactured walk-in coolers and freezers since 1910. It is the oldest privately held commercial walk-in cooler and freezer manufacturer in the nation, serving schools, hospitals, restaurants, supermarkets and many other commercial food service applications.
Davis said W.A. Brown was not required to issue a WARN Act notice, which would have given employees advance notice of the closing. That’s because of the size of its workforce, which Davis said numbered 98.
“We’re working with the employees on their unemployment benefits. We have some training programs available if they need them to get the skills to return to work more quickly,” Davis said. “We’re encouraging folks to come in and meet with us and get things started.”
Davis said the training is available under the Workforce Reinvestment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In conjunction with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, the agency offers programs that can be completed in six months.
A voice mail message at W.A. Brownís offices says the company “will be closed this week for the holiday.”

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