Manitowoc Foodservice moving ice machine production to Mexico

Manitowoc Foodservice's Manitowoc Ice production facility is seen, March 11, 2014. (WLUK/Bill Miston)
Manitowoc Foodservice's Manitowoc Ice production facility is seen, March 11, 2014. (WLUK/Bill Miston)

MANITOWOC - Manitowoc Foodservice is moving production of a line of ice machines from Manitowoc to Monterrey, Mexico.

About 150 employees who work on the Indigo line of ice machines at Manitowoc Ice will be affected, said Manitowoc Sr. Vice President of Human Resources and Administration Tom Musial.

Musial returned FOX 11's calls for comment, but declined an on-camera or recorded phone interview.

Layoffs will start in September and go through the end of 2015. Musial says about 100 employees will remain at the Manitowoc plant doing machine assembly and other areas of production. The company recently invested $3.2 million in the Wisconsin facility.

Several Manitowoc Ice employees didn't want to talk with FOX 11 on camera, but said they're shocked with the decision.

Musial says the move is intended to help the company better serve customers in Latin America as well as U.S. customers.

"Our largest customer base in the U.S. is the south," Musial said over the phone to FOX 11's Bill Miston. "One of the advantages of Monterrey is that it's closer to some of our largest U.S. customers and as we get in to South America, Mexico has free trade agreements with South American countries, which better allows us to penetrate South America."

"Our employees aren’t to blame for global competition factors. We’re in a competitive market and it doesn’t change the competitive factors that we have to address."

The union representing plant employees declined to do an interview with FOX 11, but released a statement:

"We're probably going to have about 80 jobs left and we're going to work with the company to retain the jobs at Manitowoc Ice," said International Association of Machinists' District 10 directing business representative Russell Krings. "We're never going to be able to compete for $3-an-hour jobs and we shouldn't have to. It's a shame we have to compete with jobs being run out of the country when we need the jobs here."

Krings says the pending layoffs have nothing to do with the union's current negotiations for a new labor agreement with the ice machine manufacturer.