Connecticut is losing another piece of its industrial heritage, this time an electrical components factory of Hubbell Inc. in Newtown, which employs 140 people.
The plant, Shelton-based Hubbell’s largest in its home state, will close over the next six months.
“Today, we notified our employees that we have made the difficult decision to close our Newtown, Conn. facility over the next six months,” Hubbell said in a written statement Tuesday morning. “This closure, and the Bethel closure announced earlier this month, is part of an ongoing operational efficiency initiative that involves Hubbell operations across the company.”
Hubbell said less than three weeks ago it would close its Burndy plant in Bethel, which employs 54, and move the work to Alabama.
Even after the closings, eliminating194 jobs, Hubbell will have more than 650 employees in Connecticut. The good news is the company has renewed a lease for its headquarters — a decision that was not automatic, sources said.
“Connecticut is our home,” Hubbell said in the statement.
The Newtown plant, which opened in 1960, makes commercial and industrial wiring devices. Most of the work will move to a larger Hubbell facility in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Most of the work at the Burndy plant, which Hubbell acquired in 2009, will move to Alabama.
Hubbell is one of the state’s old-line industrial companies, founded in 1888 by Harvey Hubbell as a pioneer in electrical components including the light socket. With the closings, it will have locations in Mystic, Winsted and Avon, the latter at its iDevices subsidiary, a consumer electronics business Hubbell bought two years ago.
For Connecticut, the two moves this month — part of a companywide consolidation by Hubbell —- mark yet more deterioration of the traditional manufacturing base.
Earlier this month United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, said it will merge with Raytheon Co., of Massachusetts and move its corporate headquarters to the Boston area, although UTC, with more than 18,000 Connecticut employees, told Gov. Ned Lamont it will hire 1,000 people this year at its Pratt & Whitney unit in East Hartford and Middletown. UTC also said Otis Elevator Co. will keep its head office in Connecticut after a planned spinoff in 2020.
Despite some high-profile losses, including an announced exit of gunmaker Stag Arms from New Britain recently, Connecticut has seen its manufacturing job base stabilize and even expand over the last five years. Average employment in the sector has been about 160,600 in the last year, up from an average of 156,500 in 2014 and 2015.
That’s still a fair bit below the 187,000 manufacturing jobs the state had in 2007.
Hubbell remains very strong, with sales last year of $4.6 billion and operating profits totaling $733 million. The company has a total equity value of $6.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. It has 75 factories and distribution facilities worldwide and nearly 20,000 employees.
Hubbell founder Harvey Hubbell has a namesake gymnasium at the University of Bridgeport. The company is not related to the Hubble Telescope, which was built in Connecticut by Perkin-Elmer Corp. at a plant now owned by Collins Aerospace, part of UTC.