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Klein Tools closing two suburban plants

Updated: January 13, 2012 8:12AM

Klein Tools Inc., a family-owned manufacturer that was founded in Chicago in 1857, is closing two locations in the suburbs and transferring jobs to Texas.

The headquarters of the hand tool maker and a factory will remain in Lincolnshire. But the company said it will close locations in Skokie and Roselle over the next 12 to 18 months.

Bruce Beebe, vice president of human resources at the company, said about 200 employees work at the two locations. Beebe said he hopes many will accept transfers to Texas or to other Klein locations.

The Skokie factory at 7200 N. McCormick Blvd. has served the company for 60 years. Beebe said it employs about 175 people.

“It needs to be replaced,” Beebe said, “and we are building a new facility in Mansfield, Texas, that we hope will serve the company another 60 years.”

The Mansfield deal was no secret, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced it a year ago, saying the state was chipping in a $2.8 million tax subsidy on Klein’s pledge to create 585 jobs.

But the company had not specified that the jobs would be moved from the Chicago area. Thomas Thompson, economic development coordinator in Skokie, said he was unaware of Klein’s plans to close in his town.

Beebe said the Roselle site at 980 Central Ave. employs about 35 workers.

Many employees are represented by Local 1255 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. Beebe said the company reached an agreement with the union in October.

“We’re taking excellent care of our people,” he said. Union leaders could not be reached.

Tax policies in Illinois have drawn heavy attention and some have argued the state has developed a business climate that’s chasing away companies. But Beebe said Klein’s shift to Texas is no political statement.

“We have no bad feelings about the tax climate,” he said, noting that the company will continue in Lincolnshire and also has a location in Elk Grove Village.

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