Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goodbye Philips Lighting

On May 29, 2009, Philips Lighting in Fairmont will shut down their final line. The fluorescent lamp manufacturing company started in Fairmont as Westinghouse in the summer of 1941. In 1983, Dutch-based Philips purchased the plant from Westinghouse. At it's peak, the plant employed 2,900 people. There was a serious threat of the plant leaving in 1989 when Philips announced they would either close the Fairmont plant or a plant in Lynn, Mass. Thanks to a lot of hard work, the Fairmont plant remained open.

On that date in 1989, Philip employed around 800 people. When it was announced the Fairmont plant would remain open, Fairmont held a “Philips Appreciation Day." I remember attending "Philips Appreciation Day." Duggar (sic) from the Duggar & Al show MC'd the event. But over the years the appreciation faltered and employees dwindled from over 800 to just 89. The closing of the plant, while sad for those 89, barely caused a ripple in Fairmont considering the economic climate.

I'm sad to see Philips leave. My grandma worked there for many years and I'm sure that if you look back through your family and friends in Fairmont, you'll find someone who was employed at Westinghouse or Philips at some point. For a long time it provided much of the identity of Fairmont. Now, it will be just one more empty lot.

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