Over 40 jobs lost as 106-year-old East Vancouver paint factory closes

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Over 40 jobs lost as 106-year-old East Vancouver paint factory closes

A factory that has been making varnish and paint in East Vancouver since Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Canada's prime minister has shut down, as parent company Sherwin-Williams eliminates more than 40 jobs.

The plant was silent on Friday, with just a couple management employees in the sprawling white building. Locksmiths were working to change all the locks.

The General Paint factory on Raymur Avenue opened in 1911 as the Ayres Varnish Company and lacked electricity and plumbing.

The company eventually changed its name in 1930. It was sold a couple of times in the last 20 years and was acquired by U.S. paint giant Sherwin-Williams in 2013. 

"It is with deep regret we must announce the closing of the Vancouver facility and we thank our associates for their work ethic and commitment," said Sherwin-Williams spokesperson Mike Conway in a statement emailed from Ohio.

'Rationalizing our capacity'

"When we have to shut down a facility, the company brings sensitivity and a comprehensive support plan," said Conway.

According to Conway, 30 unionized workers lost their jobs, as well as about a dozen salaried or management jobs.

Some of the workers have been placed in other roles at Sherwin-Williams, but many are now unemployed and will be provided with severance packages, he said.

"We're always rationalizing our capacity," said Conway, adding that the company would shift some of the manufacturing to an Ontario facility.

The Vancouver factory had been making cans of basic, white latex paint.

"It's something that happens in the business when you need to maintain your efficiency. Sometimes these things have to happen," he said.

'They were pretty upset'

Trucker Debbie Kishineff was at the factory earlier in the week picking up a load to haul to St. Louis, Missouri, as workers cleared out the facility.

"All they're doing at this point is dispersing the ingredients and products," said Kishineff. "They're just basically cleaning out the place."

"We were talking to people that had been working there for decades. They were pretty upset," she said.

Unifor Local 601, which represents the workers, couldn't be reached for comment.

Sherwin-Williams has a 151-year history, beginning in Cleveland, Ohio. The company reported $11.9 billion in net sales last year and has more than 4,800 company-owned stores and facilities.

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