New details offered in wake of Covidien closing

Commerce – We're learning more about the closing of the Covidien plant in Commerce and how and when it will impact their suppliers and employees.

Last week, KETR fist reported that the global healthcare products leader would begin layoffs of their more than 300 full-time employees in September, 2012, in an effort to maximize the company's efficiency. A final closure of the plant will take place in December, 2012.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Plant Controller Kelvin Witherspoon says their project team will implement a careful transfer of products during the coming months to other Covidien locations.

At this time, it is unclear if local company products currently supplied to Commerce will continue to be required. Witherspoon says this will be evaluated on a product by product basis, and suppliers will be notified of a plan over the next several months. However, he did say that Covidien will honor the current contracts it has in place with its suppliers.

"I expect that our commitments to customers will be maintained with the same level of excellent quality and service they have come to expect from Covidien," said Witherspoon. "I would ask for you continued support in providing quality products and services to our plant in Commerce."

Last week's news came as a shock to both employees and City of Commerce officials.

The Commerce plant was first opened in 1974 and purchased by Covidien, formerly Tyco Healthcare, in 1994. About one third of the employees at the plant live in Commerce, with the remaining two-thirds coming from communities within a 50-mile radius of the plant.

While the company is allowing employees in the Commerce plant to apply for positions elsewhere within Covidien, none of the nearly 60 remaining plants in the U.S. exist in Texas.