Coronet Industries, Inc.
Press Conference Remarks
Friday, January 30, 2004
Let me begin by saying that Coronet Industries has been a part of the Plant City community since 1906. The company has provided jobs in the community, and a quality product to our customers, for nearly a century.
Over the past several months questions have been raised by our neighbors - as well as local, state and federal regulators - about conditions at and around the plant. We've worked with, and we will continue to work with, everyone who has an interest - as we do - in addressing those questions fairly and quickly.
Let me emphasize right from the beginning, we have a responsibility to do the right thing here. And, we intend to do just that by meeting our responsibility as an employer, a neighbor in the local community and a corporate citizen of this state.
This morning I met with our employees. I informed them that we will cease operations at the plant by March 31st.
As we begin that process, there are two key issues that are paramount to me as CEO:
First, that our employees are treated fairly. They deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect, and with the appropriate consideration given to their tenure and commitment to Coronet.
I will tell you the same thing I told them this morning.
We will make certain we live up to our responsibility to them by providing a fair and appropriate separation package that includes several components - compensation, health care coverage for a period of time and assistance in finding other employment.
In addition, we've set up an Employee Assistance Program that provides a variety of additional services to them immediately.
This type of announcement is never easy - particularly for employees. But, for Coronet Industries, it is the right business decision to make. Let me explain why.
Our costs have risen dramatically. Raw material costs -- for phosphate rock -- are up about 50 percent over the last 5 years. Natural gas prices have roughly doubled during that same period.
And, electricity costs are significantly higher as well. At the same time that costs have increased, demand and prices are down.
We simply don't see a business scenario that returns Coronet to profitability at any time in the near future.
I'm usually in the business of running plants, not the other way around. But, given the market forces I've just outlined to you, it is the right business decision to make.
The second paramount issue is that the environmental issues that have been raised are given an equal amount of consideration and respect given the known facts. I want the residents of Plant City . and Hillsborough County . to have confidence that we will live up to our responsibility to them as a neighbor.
Yesterday, I met in Tallahassee with officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
We had an open and constructive dialogue. I advised the regulators of Coronet's decision to cease operations, and assured them of our intent to properly address the environmental conditions at the facility. The discussions yesterday serve as a framework, and a critical first step, toward resolving these issues.
These ongoing discussions will lead to a resolution that ensures Coronet Industries meets its responsibility from an environmental standpoint. Let me emphasize again, we will do the right thing - for our employees, for our neighbors and for the state of Florida .
My pledge to you is that I will keep you informed throughout this process.
I will immediately begin to reach out to local, state and federal governmental officials, our neighbors near the plant and labor union leaders to discuss their issues regarding Coronet and its future.
I will close my formal statement by restating what I said a moment ago. My fundamental objective as CEO is to make certain we live up to our responsibility to our employees . to our neighbors . and to the State of Florida . The process to achieve that objective has begun.