Bristol Compressors Fiasco - Plant Closing

by Lewis Loflin

Date: August 1, 2018.

While no surprise to me, the Community was rocked when on August 1st Bristol Compressors announced they will close. Their last 470 workers will be fired in the next 60 days. This comes after Bristol Compressors received between $5-$6 million in incentives, corporate welfare, and tax breaks.

This could cost overall nearly a thousand jobs if we include losses in the service industry these jobs supported. Some reports place the loss including benefits at $50 million.

The promises of new jobs was a complete lie and government agencies refused to enforce the agreements. In fact they handed out more money after one default after another. Corruption 101. I warned this was going to happen.

The company was bought in 2012, fired workers, got another $1 million handout. The company's products couldn't pass US efficiency standards in the United States as I was told, so they were sold mainly in the Middle East. Those sales have fallen.

Bristol and Washington County were caught by surprise as usual. Bristol Compressors has a bad reputation among some as a low-pay and abusive employer. But it isn't just their workers getting a hit.

Another local company Air Gas a welding supply company will likely take a hit. Bristol Virginia Utilities went into a panic as well. Bristol Compressors is among their largest electric customer and officials are scrambling to figure out what to do next.

Could the public be there for these meetings? Not a chance.

This was reported in January:

New deal "game changer" for Bristol Compressors Jan 18, 2018 Bristol Herald Courier and is still on the Company website!

BRISTOL, Va . — Bristol Compressors on Thursday signed an exclusive development contract that could prove a “game changer” for the local firm, according to Kevin Mumpower, Bristol Compressors vice president of product engineering.

The Washington County-based manufacturer has an exclusive global partnership with DHX Electric Machines to develop new high efficiency compressors and systems.

"This agreement means nobody else can use this technology but Bristol Compressors," Mumpower said. "That is huge. A current motor we use weighs 25 pounds. This one weighs seven pounds. It's more efficient, lighter weight, lower cost and it's allowing us to change the industry with this motor. It’s hard to explain how much of a game changer this is. We've never had the opportunity to use a motor like this in a compressor."

The DwHX patented motor technology will allow Bristol to develop compressors that are shorter, lighter and more efficient than anything on the market today, Mumpower said.

(This is what was hidden from the public.)

The motor development is supported by a previously confidential $1 million, three-year research grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission that was matched by $1 million from the company, Mumpower said. The company is about six months into that development program...

Where is the new compressor? Where the hell is that $1 million research grant? What a rip-off in my opinion.

The Company website says nothing about closure of the Bristol plant. I have a feeling they are relocating with the technology the public paid for if they developed it.

More from the Company website:

Technology Grants Support Product Development and Training at Bristol Compressors

Bristol Compressors International, Inc. (BCI) is developing some of the latest energy-efficient compressor technologies for the air conditioning, heat pump and refrigeration industries; and recent grants and funding in excess of $300,000 will support and accelerate this important work.

GENEDGE ALLIANCE, in cooperation with the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, has awarded BCI a $225,000 grant for an Innovation Commercialization Project that will accelerate high-technology economic growth. New technology being developed at BCI focuses on increasing energy efficiency levels while also raising compressor reliability performance to meet new customer demands in hot climates.

In addition, BCI has received $113,000 from the VDBA (Virginia Department of Business Assistance) through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. This grant will help offset the costs associated with training employees in lean methodology and process improvements.

"We developed our Benchmark X14 14 SEER compressor to meet new federal energy efficiency regulations well ahead of a 2015 mandate, and we have a new single-cylinder compressor that is raising the bar on reliability in very hot tropical conditions," says Ed Gniewek, CEO of Bristol Compressors. "These are new technologies that we believe will help us gain more market share while at the same time making more environmentally friendly solutions available to our customers."

"We are retraining employees throughout our organization," adds Rick Nunley, director of human resources at BCI. These funds assist and help to offset training expenses in our lean manufacturing transformation.

"We very much appreciate GENEDGE ALLIANCE, the Virginia Tobacco Commission and VDBA for supporting our new technologies and training initiatives."

Where are those grants?

Also note "Bristol Compressors Receives Manufacturer of the Year Award from the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing" as they continued to fire workers and waste government grants that went nowhere.


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