National Packaging Co. in Decatur plans to lay off 62 of its 154 employees next month, an announcement that comes as 90-employee Automatic SMP of Decatur prepares to close its plant.

National Packaging filed a federally required notice last month announcing its intention to lay off the employees Aug. 8. The business, which produces blister packs, canisters and other packaging, is located at 101 Lenwood Road S.E.

“The company will continue to operate in Decatur and focus on its other growing lines of business,” according to a statement by the company.

The affected employees include administrative, production, maintenance and quality assurance workers, according to Pam Werstler, a human resources consultant for the company and former HR director there.

“We’re working with them to get other employment,” she said. She said National Packaging is working with the Dislocated Worker Unit/Workforce Development Section of the Alabama Department of Commerce to meet with all impacted employees.

“The Rapid Response Team will inform the affected employees of worker’s compensation, training opportunities, employment services and other services to help them become employed,” she said.

Jeremy Nails, president and chief executive officer of the Morgan County Economic Development Association, said it’s unfortunate when any company closes a plant or lays off workers, but “sometimes it is necessary for the company to stay in business.”

“Companies are continuously looking to make improvements, add new technology and streamline their production to maintain their competitiveness,” Nails said. “This is especially true since the pandemic as staffing challenges and supply chains became problematic for some companies.”

Nails said he appreciates that National Packaging will maintain a presence in Decatur.

“Those employees that are being displaced will have marketable production skills that will hopefully be attractive to other companies that are trying to hire new employees in this low-unemployment-rate labor environment,” he said.

The business had 320 employees in December 2007, according to disclosures it made when obtaining a tax abatement. It was incorporated in 1984 and its president is Joel Matthews, according to Secretary of State filings. Matthews couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The Automatic SMP plant at 709 Second Ave. S.E. has been in Decatur since 1948. Originally a family-owned business, its ownership has changed several times, and it most recently was acquired by Connecticut-based Stanley Black & Decker in 2018. A spokesperson said it is relocating its operations to Mexico and California over the next seven months.

The Alabama Department of Labor provides services and programs for people searching for jobs and for employers.

Melissa Anderson, the manager of the ADOL’s Decatur Career Center, said Wednesday that AlabamaWorks, the state’s free online jobs database, currently has 1,760 available job openings in Morgan County and 164 in Lawrence County.

She said the types of jobs now posted include medical, production, retail and service.

“Job seekers can take advantage of free resume preparation services and interview skills information,” Anderson said, and they can use the career center’s resource room to search for and apply for jobs. Staff at the career center can assist people in registering for AlabamaWorks.

According to Anderson, vocational and educational training programs are available, many at no cost, to people looking for jobs. On-the-job training and apprenticeship programs allow workers to earn wages while learning a trade. A variety of services are also available for veterans.

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