The end of an era for Salem, S.D.'s Buhler Industries
SALEM--When Feterl Manufacturing Corp. went bankrupt in 2009, Paul Deters, of Salem, transitioned seamlessly into a new position with Buhler Industries, a company that moved into the same building.
SALEM-When Feterl Manufacturing Corp. went bankrupt in 2009, Paul Deters, of Salem, transitioned seamlessly into a new position with Buhler Industries, a company that moved into the same building.
But an impending transition won't be as easy for the 63-year-old. Today, Deters, who has worked in the building for 34 years, will attend his last day as an employee for Buhler Industries, which is closing its Salem shop due to a "poor farm economy," according to a company official. As a result, 67 people in the 1,355-person town are losing their jobs.
"It hurts and it was a shock-a big shock," Deters said. "But you have to move on. You always end up having to move on at some point."
Buhler Industries, a designer, manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, announced in March the closing of its Salem location. The Canadian-based company has locations in Willmar, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; Morden, Manitoba, Canada; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Salem branch was one of three facilities that produced products for the Farm King brand.
The remaining approximately seven employees who were not part of previous rounds of layoffs that began in May will spend today finishing loading trucks with equipment to be sent to other facilities, Deters said.
When Feterl Manufacturing closed and Buhler moved in, Deters said it was an easy conversion as an employee, once he was hired. Both companies produced equipment such as augers, bale carriers and discs.
"You just did the same thing you did before," Deters said. "I did everything from welding to making tubing to loading trucks."
This time, Deters is unsure of what the future holds.
The lifelong Salem native has always worked in the manufacturing business, but, because of his age, he is skeptical about whether other businesses will want to hire him.
"You walk into a plant and they go, 'You think you can do that?' " Deters said. "I can do it just as good as anybody else, but they're looking and I'm 63 years old and they're thinking 'You're going to retire in a couple of years, we don't want to train you. So, I don't really know if I'll stay in the same business."
Curtiss Lee, Director of Engineering for Buhler, said corporation's decision to close the Salem branch was not made lightly, but was a "strategic move to help solidify the stability of the other plants."
Lee said several employees have found new jobs in the Salem, Madison and Mitchell areas, but, as expected, plenty are still looking. There were some husband-wife duos, as well as fathers and sons who made the workplace environment feel like home, Lee said. But all, Lee said, deserve to be recognized for the work they produced while working for the company.
In fact, many of the employees, like Deters, who transitioned from Feterl to Buhler, helped build not only products, but the majority of the equipment used to make the products and the buildings that housed the Salem branch.
"There's a lot of pride, they built good products-there's nothing to be ashamed of in their products and what they've accomplished over the years," Lee said. "They need to be recognized for their commitment, not only to Buhler, but to the community of Salem. It's a sad and hard time for them, but they did a wonderful job here."