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June 2, 2009

ITT Rule plant leaving for Mexico

Loss of 87 local jobs projected from corporate parent's move

ITT Rule Industries, the West Gloucester company that revolutionized the bilge pump and became a leading marine equipment manufacturer and innovator from its home in Cape Ann Industrial Park, is moving its production line to Mexico, its corporate parent announced yesterday.

The move will result in the loss of 87 local jobs at a time of rising unemployment throughout the state and tough times for Cape Ann's other large industrial businesses.

The recession and collapse of the recreational boat market forced ITT, the international conglomerate that bought Rule in 1998, to consolidate production of all of its marine and recreational vehicle equipment to a plant in the city of Chihuahua in north central Mexico, a company spokesman said.

"This decision does not reflect the quality of the workforce," Tom Glover of ITT said yesterday. "This will allow us to remain competitive long term."

"All of our competitors are manufacturing in China and Mexico," he added.

Forty-eight white-collar workers in marketing, administration, finance, human resources, engineering and customer service will be retained at the Kondelin Road facility, which is owned by ITT, Glover said.

Cuts to the local work force will be phased in, Glover said, starting in August and accelerating through the fall, until all manufacturing is halted by the end of 2009.

Rule Industries began in the Beverly Farms garage of founder Clinton Rule, a self-described "crackpot inventor" whose struggle with a leaky boat inspired him to develop a new bilge pump design that would come to lead the world market.

In the 1970s, Rule expanded into design and production of a number of different marine products, including saws, paint, anchors and electronics. Rule also owned the historic Paint Factory for a period of time after acquiring it in 1979.

After Rule sold the company, it passed through the hands of a number of owners before landing with ITT — the engineering and manufacturing giant based in White Plains, N.Y., with multiple businesses related to managing the flow of liquids, from wastewater to ocean water. The company has $11 billion in annual sales.

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