Franklin manufacturer to close

A Franklin manufacturing facility is closing and moving its operations overseas.

Atlas Copco will close by the end of the year, laying off 32 employees and leaving a manufacturing building vacant.

The company, which makes compressors and boosters, is moving its operations to Belgium, according to a news release from the company.

Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness was notified of the closure by letter late last week. He was hopeful that other local manufacturers that are growing would be able to hire the employees who are being displaced.

Atlas Copco bought the facility at 1015 Hurricane Road in Franklin from Grimmer Industries in 2008. At the time, 90 people worked at the Franklin plant, which came to Franklin in 1972.

The history of the facility makes the closing even more unfortunate, said Cheryl Morphew, chief executive officer of the Johnson County Development Corp.

“Anytime we see a closing or a transfer, it’s particularly hard, but this one was homegrown,” she said.

Franklin is one of two Atlas Copco manufacturing facilities closing. A factory in Germany also is closing and moving its operations to Spain, said Paul Humphreys, Atlas Copco vice president of communications.

The Franklin facility makes specialty high-pressure boosters and compound compressors, which are used by multiple industries, including well, geothermal, oil and gas drilling, Humphreys said. The product is custom-made for the industries that use it.

Closing the plant will place production, research and development of those products in one place in Antwerp, Belgium, he said.

“Closing a facility is a tough decision, but this change is a necessary element of our strategic plan to create a global competency center for specialty products used in the oil and gas industry,” said Peter Lauwers, president of the Atlas Copco Portable Energy division. “Centralizing our engineering, manufacturing and logistics resources is an instrumental step in ensuring we continue to advance our booster and compound compressor range, to service our customers around the world.”

The oil and gas business, which is the predominant industry the Franklin location serves, is not doing as well as in the past due to lower oil prices, Humphreys said.

So demand for the products that the Franklin Atlas plant makes is down compared with a couple of years ago, he said.

Atlas Copco will offer a severance package to employees.

Officials also plan to sell the 50,000-square-foot building after the timing of the closure is set, Humphreys said.

The facility sits on four acres off Hurricane Road, between Arvin and Upper Shelbyville roads on the city’s east side.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.