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Car-Freshner closes local plant

Car-Freshner parking lot was closed off after employees were escorted out of the building and told the plant was closing immediately Photo by Jeff Woodburn. (click for larger version)
April 25, 2012
BERLIN –Orange traffic cones blocked the entrance to the Car-Freshner plant that last week employed 46 local workers. All were escorted out of the building and told the manufactory, which makes those pine tree-shaped car deodorizers, was closing immediately. The company offered employees a chance to relocate to either the Watertown, N.Y. or the DeWitt, Iowa plant or receive a severance package equal to six-months pay.

The company blamed the closure on increasing fuel and transportation costs. Car-Freshner did not respond to an e-mail seeking more information. Back in February 1988, when Car-Freshner purchased the former paper sales building on Jericho Road, Operations Manager Robert Swank said in the Lewiston Sun article, that "this (Berlin location) is where we plan to do any expansion."

The local office of the state's Employment Security department is assisting the workers with the transition. Commissioner George Bald of the Department of Resources and Economic Development said his department is "redoubling their efforts to bring new opportunities to the North Country."

The way in which Car-Freshner handled the plant the closing did not sit well with many people, including Bald. He explained that this is not an unusual process and is likely based upon legal advice to protect their assets and trade secrets from disgruntled employees. "It always disappoints me when companies does this," Bald said, "I know if happens often. It's not a good way to treat your people."

He said good things are happening in the region, but realizes that for many unemployed workers things are not happening fast enough.

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