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Energizer says soft demand doomed NW Mo. plant

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Shrinking demand for disposable batteries is the main reason Energizer decided to shutter its northwest Missouri plant next year, company officials said, leaving about 300 workers out of a job.

The company announced earlier this month it was closing its Maryville plant as part of a restructuring plan made necessary by a global trend toward rechargeable batteries. The St. Joseph News-Press reported (http://bit.ly/UiDd07 ) that the plant makes disposable AA, AAA, C and 9-volt batteries.

“Volumes for primary batteries have been declining for the last few years, and we are estimating that the softness will continue, with battery category unit volumes estimated to decline in the low single digits in 2013,” said Jacqueline Burwitz, Energizer’s vice president for investor relations.

Adam Moore, who organized The Battery Show last week in Detroit, said disposable batteries such as those manufactured by Energizer and other household items are fading in popularity because of the trend toward reusable, cost-effective products.

“Power tools or personal electronics that previously took primary batteries are being replaced by more efficient battery packs, leading to growing companies and job creation for this rapidly expanding market,” Moore said.

He said the Maryville plant could be retooled by a related company to retain its importance in the field. He said the lack of proper recycling facilities for disposable batteries, especially in undeveloped nations, is a detriment compared with environmentally sensitive rechargeable alternatives.

“The battery industry in general is still looking at exceptional growth next year, particularly considering the current economic climate, and the decline in the primary battery market demonstrates just one change in this rapidly evolving industry,” Moore said.

In the meantime, a resource team consisting of the Missouri Career Center, Maryville’s chamber of commerce and Northwest Missouri State University, is working on plans to assist laid-off Energizer employees.

Kim Mildward, director for the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Work Program at the career center, said plant employees can come to the center to start determining their skills for the marketplace.

Those workers can pursue a National Career Readiness Certificate to establish their competence in math, reading and other skills in their fields.

She said the certification can be a key in retraining displaced employees.

“That is something we highly recommend,” she said.

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Information from: St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, http://www.stjoenews-press.com

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