Eaton sells Whitfield manufacturing plant for $4.1 million

mjohnson@bradenton.comMay 15, 2014 

MANATEE -- French aerospace company Safran Group finished its purchase of a division of Eaton Corp. late last week by buying the Dublin, Ireland-based company's Manatee County manufacturing facility for $4.15 million.

According to Manatee County records, a subsidiary of Paris-based Safran, Labinal Power Systems, bought the 36-acre property at 2250 Whitfield Ave. on May 9. The purchase took place on the same day that Safran paid $270 million for Eaton's Aerospace Power Distribution Management Solutions and Cockpit Solutions.

With the Manatee County property purchase, Safran acquires an approximately 135,000-square-foot light industrial building. The building was originally built in 1978. Eaton Aerospace purchased the property from its parent company, Eaton Corp., in 2000 for $3.7 million, according to county records.

According to Eaton Corp. spokeswoman Kelly Jasko, the Manatee County facility employed 180 people at the start of 2014. As recently as 2009, the manufacturing plant employed about 250 people. Eaton went through several rounds of layoffs in the past decade.

Catherine Malek, the head of corporate media relations for Safran, said her company is keeping the facility's current workforce in place.

"The entire workforce transitioned to Labinal employment with no break in service," she said.

Malek did not comment on future hiring or layoffs.

Overall, the Eaton division Safran bought employs about 350 people between two facilities in Manatee County and Costa Mesa, Calif. The division produces illuminated switches, cock

pit panel assemblies and pilot controls, as well as power distribution components for aerospace and industrial applications. According to an Eaton press release published last week, the division notched $102 million in sales in 2013.

Safran purchased the former Eaton division to build its presence in the North American avionics and flight controls market, according to a press release issued by the company.

Labinal Power Systems maintains its North American corporate headquarters in Denton, Texas.

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