Almost 200 lose jobs as Chicago window maker closes

June 13, 2014

YouTube
The workers came to Armaclad Windows and Doors through a staffing firm.

Almost 200 workers on Chicago’s Southwest Side are losing their jobs at a window manufacturer whose owner led a Goose Island company that gained national notoriety when laid-off workers held a 2008 sit-in.

Ronald Spielman, owner of Armaclad Windows and Doors, 4422 W. 46th St., said Thursday he had no plans to relocate the factory and was liquidating the company’s assets.

Armaclad restructuring manager Tony Natale said the liquidation will be “piecemeal.” A goal is to avoid filing for bankruptcy, he said. “We’re going to try and get the best recovery we can for creditors.”

Natale said the company’s red ink totals $13 million and said the creditors include two banks, a temp-labor firm, trucking companies and suppliers.

Armaclad is cutting off about 145 workers assigned to the factory by the labor firm, Cicero-based Alternative Staffing. Another 50 workers were employed directly by Armaclad. Most worked their last day at the factory this week.

Natale blamed the company’s collapse on unusually cold temperatures last winter and on what he called “bad management.” Armaclad, known for its vinyl windows, failed in an attempted expansion to fiberglass models, he said.

For years, Spielman owned Republic Windows and Doors, a company that received about $10 million in city tax-increment financing to build the Goose Island plant. That building was sold in a 2006 deal that allegedly netted Spielman millions of dollars.

Republic kept operating there until a mass layoff in 2008. Dozens of workers refused to leave the plant in a sit-in that won praise from Barack Obama, who was president-elect. The occupation lasted six days and ended after Republic creditors agreed to pay the workers severance packages.

In December, five years after the sit-in, a Cook County judge sentenced Spielman associate Richard B. Gillman to four years in prison for looting Republic.

As Gillman was prosecuted, Spielman denied wrongdoing.

The Armaclad closing could be a boon to New Era Windows, 2600 W. 35th St., a fledgling cooperative owned by 16 workers who were employed by Republic.

“It’s a sad time when any worker loses his job,” New Era member Ricky Maclin said.

New Era leaders said their co-op might be able to bring on some of the laid-off Armaclad workers if business picks up.

“Our windows are still made on the same machines that produced the windows at Republic,” Maclin said. “We would very much like an opportunity to showcase our windows” to former Armaclad customers.

Chip Mitchell is WBEZ’s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMitchell1 and @WBEZoutloud, and connect with him through Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.