PRENTICE — Caterpillar Inc. announced that it was closing its forest products facility here as part of its global restructuring and cost reduction efforts.

The move, announced in a press release on Friday, will affect approximately 220 employees at the facility in Prentice, including office and production workers as well as agency workers. Production from the facility will be moved to operations in LaGrange, Ga., and Victoria, Texas, where current employees will absorb the work.

The move is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

The company also said it is in negotiations with a third party about purchasing the Prentice facility. If so, there is possibility that some of the current workforce will remain in Prentice.

No other details about a potential sale were available.

Caterpillar first announced plans to restructure in September of 2015. Those actions began last year and are expected to continue through 2018.

Other facilities that will be impacted by the company’s plans to close plants include East Peoria, Ill., Thomasville, Ga; and Santa Fe, N.M. Caterpillar also will close a facility in Tongzhou, China.

According to Caterpillar, five plants were closed which resulted in a reduction of about 670 jobs.

The Prentice facility, known as Caterpillar Forest Products, makes timber-harvesting equipment that is sold primarily in North America, but also three out-of-country distributors, according to Caterpillar’s website.

Prentice’s connection to repair and manufacturing of logging equipment began in 1945 with Prentice residence Leo Heikkinen’s creation of the Heikkinen Machinery Company, which was incorporated as Prentice Hydraulics in 1959.

Heikkinen’s business expanded through the years. It was sold to Omark Industries of Portland, Ore., in 1967, which itself was purchased by Blount Inc. in 1985. The forestry division of Blount eventually was sold to Caterpillar Inc. of Peoria, Ill., in 2007.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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