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Pembina bus plant to close in late 2022

According to an NFI Group release, the plant is expected to close sometime in the fourth quarter of 2022. The bus maker is working on a cost-cutting plan, a series of initiatives, to cut costs by $67 million.

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GRAND FORKS – Manitoba, Canada-based NFI Group Inc. announced on Thursday, May 19, that the Motor Coach Industries bus manufacturing plant in Pembina, N.D., will be closing as part of a series of cost saving measures.

According to an NFI Group release, the plant is expected to close sometime in the fourth quarter of 2022. The bus maker is working on a cost-cutting plan, a series of initiatives, to cut costs by $67 million.

Brian Dewsnup, acting president and CEO of NFI, said the company has been working over the last two years to lower costs and streamline operations, while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has also been dealing with supply chain issues.

“The closure of our Pembina facility follows a detailed review of our manufacturing footprint, combined with the planned cessation of a legacy motorcoach vehicle product, and prior investments in expanded production and workforce development at our Minnesota facilities,” Dewsnup said. “It is never easy to close locations and impact the lives and careers of our people, and we will do our best to redeploy or assist them in finding alternative employment where possible. These decisions, while difficult, best position NFI to serve our coach customers, better match production capacity with labor availability, and improve the flexibility of our overall North American footprint on our path to achieving our 2025 financial targets.”

According to Lindy Norris, director of marketing and public affairs, the motor coach business has been hit hard by the pandemic through supply chain shortages, heightened inflation, extreme fuel prices and a tighter labor market.

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Still, Norris said that even before the pandemic, appropriately staffing the Pembina plant was a challenge. In addition, she said an internal study of the company’s North American operations found that NFI has “excess manufacturing capacity.”

Norris said there are 195 people employed at the Pembina facility. NFI will offer employees the chance to transfer to different NFI facilities, including the New Flyer plant in Crookston, Minnesota. The company will also manage the closure of the plant through retirements and “normal job attrition.”

“We recognize this announcement of facility closure is concerning and remain committed to supporting our people as best as possible through this difficult transition,” Norris said.

NFI is in the second phase of its “NFI Forward” initiative to cut costs. In this second phase, the company has completed a review of its remaining North American footprint, and is looking to match its production capacity and facility investments to customer demand and local labor availability.

The company previously took a number of cost-cutting measures such as merging the New Flyer and MCI companies into one business entity, as well as streamlining its administrative and back-office functions.

NFI is a global bus manufacturer that operates the New Flyer, MCI, Alexander Dennis Limited and Plaxton brands of bus makers, among others.

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Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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