Auto parts maker leaving Easley for Mexico

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The Kongsberg Automotive plant in Easley.

An auto parts maker says it’s pulling up the stakes in Easley and heading to Mexico, throwing 97 people out of a job.

Kongsberg Automotive, which has made hose and tube assemblies along Powdersville Road in the Easley area since the spring of 2012, said it would close the plant in January and move most of the production and equipment to Mexico.

The plant has been put into “an uncompetitive position” by a “very competitive market in the area,” Kongsberg said in a statement posted on its website.

“This means there is a strong need to become more efficient and reduce costs,” and that can only be achieved by relocating, the company said.

The industrial building at 111 Kayaker Way was formerly home to Perception, a kayak company now called Confluence Outdoor and located in Greenville.

Bill Masters, a Greenville entrepreneur who founded the kayak company and owns the 82,000-square-foot building, said Kongsberg has more than five years left on the lease. He said the Norwegian auto parts maker spent more than $1 million improving the building and is now “having to walk away from it.”

“We’ll get it released because we want employees in Pickens County,” Masters said.

The Easley plant is one of six plants that Kongsberg has said it intends to close in order to improve its performance.

The 97 layoffs include temporary and permanent positions, Kongsberg said in a notice to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

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