October 18, 2021

TPI to suspend operations in Newton wind blade plant

About 750 workers could lose their jobs, city says it will work together to ‘overcome this challenge’

TPI Composites Inc., the largest employer in Jasper County, announced today it will suspend operations at its Newton-based wind blade manufacturing facility at the end of December, which could mean about 750 employees would lose their jobs.

Josh Syhlman, general manager of TPI Iowa, said in a statement to Newton News that the manufacturer extended its building lease through 2022 and is “actively exploring other opportunities for meaningful work at the facility.” However, the plant has not planned any wind blade quotas for next year.

TPI does not have any planned volume for the Newton plant in 2022, Syhlman said, because of continued uncertainty regarding regulatory environment, supply chain and logistics costs, coupled with the unpredictability of when “wind-related tax credits will go into effect and the impact they have in the near-term.”

Newton City Administrator Matt Muckler said he was informed of about TPI’s announcement Thursday afternoon and lamented “that industry specific issues” may cause the company — which opened the Newton wind blade plant in late 2007 — to suspend production.

“TPI’s workforce comes from all over the region so this would impact not only Newton but many communities throughout Central Iowa,” Muckler said.

In the event the suspension of production takes place, Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said the city, its local economic development partners and social service providers “will work to assist those residents impacted.”

Hansen added, “Newton is a resilient community with a diversified economy. And while this potential suspension of manufacturing will have an impact on TPI employees and their families, we will continue to work together to overcome this challenge as a community.”

In February 2020, TPI closed its composite electric bus body manufacturing plant in Newton, opting to consolidate operations into the company’s Rhode Island transportation facility. About 147 employees worked at the bus body plant. Nearly all of them were offered jobs in the wind blade facility before operations ceased.

Syhlman told Newton News the decision to close the bus plant was difficult, but it had “never reached adequate production and profitability levels.” Staff regularly manufactured two bus bodies a week.

Read TPI’s full statement here:

“Due to continued uncertainty regarding the regulatory environment, supply chain and logistics costs, and uncertainty about when various wind-related tax credits will go into effect and the impact they may have in the near-term, we do not currently have any planned volume for our Newton, Iowa plant in 2022.

“As a result, we are now in the very unfortunate position of needing to suspend manufacturing at our facility at the end of December 2021. We have extended the facility lease through 2022 and are actively exploring other opportunities for meaningful work at the facility.”

Read the city administrator’s full statement here:

“It’s unfortunate that industry specific issues may cause TPI to suspend production at their Newton facility at the end of December. TPI’s General Manager Josh Syhlman shared the news of this potential suspension of production with City officials Thursday afternoon. TPI’s workforce comes from all over the region so this would impact not only Newton but many communities throughout Central Iowa.”

Read the mayor’s full statement here:

“In the event that this suspension of production takes place, the City and its local economic development partners and social service providers will work to assist those residents impacted. Newton is a resilient community with a diversified economy. And while this potential suspension of manufacturing will have an impact on TPI employees and their families, we will continue to work together to overcome this challenge as a community.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.