JUNEAU (AP) -- Two Alaska Native regional corporations have announced plans to merge plastics companies they own in neighboring Pacific Northwest cities.
Officials from Sealaska Corp. and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. signed a letter of intent Thursday to merge Sealaska's TriQuest Precision Plastics plant at Vancouver, Wash., with Arctic Slope's Puget Plastics of Tualatin, Oregon.
Sealaska spokesman Ross Soboleff said the new company's headquarters will be in Tualatin and the TriQuest plant in Vancouver will be closed.
''It didn't make sense to have two companies running at 39 percent capacity,'' said Al Kookesh of Angoon, a Democratic state representative and a board member of both Sealaska and TriQuest. ''The problem with the Vancouver plant is that most of the big companies have moved out of that area.''
Arctic Slope Regional bought Puget Plastics in 1995 and Sealaska bought TriQuest in 1997. Both make precision injection-molded plastics parts such as computer and keyboard casings, telephones, medical equipment and appliance parts.
Hewlett Packard, the companies' previous main regional client, formerly used a Vancouver plant to produce ink-jet printers for sale in the United States. But in early 1999, the company moved the operation to Mexico and turned the manufacturing over to subcontractors, said Puget Plastics President Dale Behm.
With labor costs 25 percent to 30 percent lower in Mexico, TriQuest and Puget Plastics could no longer compete as suppliers, Behm said.
TriQuest employs 160 workers in Vancouver and Puget Plastics employs 169 workers at Tualatin. Soboleff said there are likely to be layoffs and Behm told the Juneau Empire that layoffs will take place evenly on both sides.
A final agreement on the merger is expected this summer.
The merger is not expected to affect other domestic or foreign manufacturing operations of the companies. TriQuest has divisions in Redmond, Wash., Baxter, Minn., and Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico. Puget Plastics' other plant is in Guadalajara.
Soboleff said the planned merger will not affect existing customers or agreements.
Jerry McMurry, Puget Plastics' vice president of business development, will be corporate general manager.
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