Owens Corning, a global insulation and composites company, will close its Brunswick factory and lay off 60 employees.

Machinery at the plant will be transferred to the company’s plant in Wichita Falls, Texas, according to company spokesman Todd Romain.

The plant makes technical fabrics out of fiberglass, primarily for the wind power industry. The company is relocating for cheaper transportation and to be closer to its customers, Romain said.

Employees at the factory were told about closure plans during a company meeting Monday. Owens Corning will wind down operations and shut down certain machines in the next three months, but the earliest date it expects job losses is Dec. 31, Romain said. Maine employees will not be relocated to the new factory, he said.

The Brunswick plant, at 43 Bibber Parkway, is the only Owens Corning facility in Maine. Owens Corning is a global conglomerate that produces insulation, roofing and composite materials for a variety of industries. The company operates in 33 counties and has 17,000 employees, according to its website. It recorded $5.7 billion in sales in 2016.

The company is relocating the plant to save costs associated with the cross-country transportation of materials and finished products, Romain said.

“This will enable our business to operate more efficiently and support the competitive supply of glass products to our customers, who are geographically more closely located with production within the region nearer to Wichita Falls,” he said. “To be clear, the decision to cease production in Brunswick is in no way a reflection on the efforts and quality of our workforce, which have been outstanding.”

While wind energy production in Maine is on the rise, most wind turbines are manufactured in Texas and Iowa, so it makes sense that Owens Corning would relocate to be closer to the industry, said Steve Von Vogt, executive director of the Maine Composites Alliance.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the wind industry here,” Von Vogt said.

Workers facing layoffs from the Brunswick plant could land on their feet, he added. Maine companies like Fiber Materials in Biddeford and Tex Tech Industries in Monmouth have a hard time finding enough qualified employees, Von Vogt said.

“There is a robust market for people in composites; we have some very high-level specialty producers in Maine,” he said. “I’m pretty sure people will get snapped up.”

The Brunswick plant has been making materials for the wind industry since 1984, when Martin Grimnes started the company as Brunswick Technologies. The original company was acquired by a French company during a hostile takeover in the 1990s and subsequently sold to Owens Corning, Grimnes said.

Grimnes has been involved in Maine’s composite materials industry for decades and in 2015 reached a deal with a Norwegian company to produce carbon-fiber ferries in Belfast.

Moving the plant makes financial sense because it uses raw materials produced near Wichita Falls, Grimnes said.

“I would imagine that is the overwhelming reason,” he said. “It’s sad, because I’m sure there are a lot of employees who are now losing their jobs that were there when I was.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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