KEARNEY — The Eaton Corp. plant in Kearney is quiet for now.
Few details were available from the company, but the plant will be closed for a week and employees are not reporting to work.
At last count, about 500 people were employed at the manufacturing plant on U.S. Highway 30 in east Kearney.
The factory manufactures precision valves and gears for automobiles and other uses, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in Kearney in 2019.
The plant closure has caused concern among Kearney leaders, including Mayor Stan Clouse.
“We’re guarded because Eaton is a major employer. We hope the management and the employees are able to work through this.”
Local management at the Eaton facility referred questions to corporate headquarters in Cleveland, but there was no response to a request for information before the Hub went to press today.
The temporary closing of the Kearney plant comes as three major automakers — Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler — announced they would stop production for about two weeks in face of the coronavirus outbreak. The automakers reportedly agreed to deep clean their factories.
On an average day, the Kearney team produces 300,000 valves and 30,000 gears.
One of Kearney’s largest employers, Eaton is active in the community.
In the past two years the Eaton team has won several awards. In 2018, the Kearney Chamber of Commerce named Eaton its Outstanding Business of the Year. The Kearney plant was one of only two Eaton facilities globally that won the corporation’s Stover Award in 2018, which recognizes outstanding volunteerism.
The Kearney plant also received the 2019 Kearney Hub Freedom Award for its community involvement.
The plant has been a part of Eaton Corp. since 1969. The plant encompasses 314,000 square feet and paid $481,000 in local property taxes in 2018, according to its Stover Award nomination. The nomination also reported the factory at 4200 U.S. Highway 30 had an annual payroll of $35.3 million.