Camtec merges, moves jobs to Mexico

MD-Camtech moves to Mexico_3x

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas Camtec, a Church Creek employer for 30 years, is closing its doors and relocating manufacturing to Mexico.

CHURCH CREEK — Some three dozen men have worked at Camtec for 10, 20, even more than 30 years, making hospital beds. In a 15-minute meeting in early spring, it all came apart. Workers at Camtec in Church Creek, learning about the closing of their workplace, were shocked by the brief announcement that their jobs are going across the border to Mexico. Labor costs there are cheaper than in the U.S.

Employees are not talking publicly about the closing, following orders. Saddened and distressed, they are still working overtime and Saturdays on a quota of hospital beds to guarantee their settlements and severance pay. But family and friends, churning with bitter dissatisfaction, are venting about the longtime Dorchester County employer. They are angry that a successful business here is eliminating long term jobs, and taking those jobs to Mexico for an even more profitable operation.

For decades, the large white building housing Camtec has stood on Route 16 on the outskirts of Church Creek. Over the years, add-ons to the manufacturing plant announced growth and prosperity while producing an ungainly look. The esthetics hardly mattered to the approximately 36 employees. The job offered stability and good pay, for men trained as welders, machine operators, and painters.

Family members say the workers haven’t dealt with resumes and interviews for many years. As manufacturing shrinks in the U.S. in favor of Asian countries and Mexico, the job market for their skills is also shrinking. They blame both the company and the State of Maryland for the predicament of unemployment. The original Camtec company was merged with an investing group. The merged company, now called RecoverCare Joerns, is headquartered out-of-state and the Cambridge operation is but a small part.

One family member charged that the motive of excellence went out the window with the merger, kicked in the rear by greed. Friends and neighbors allege that when investors merge or buy companies, their eye is on maximizing profits with no concern for workers. But friends and family also blame the state for no aggressive incentives, or any incentives, to keep a company in Maryland from escaping to the greener pastures of a foreign manufacturing location.

State workers are now at the plant, training the soon-to-be-unemployed in interview techniques and redirecting them to education and training for non-manufacturing jobs. The families will bear what they see as a financial burden and emotional betrayal in the move to Mexico, however Dorchester County will also tally up a loss. Taxes, both employment and property, may be reduced if long-time residents leave. Disposable income will shrink and local businesses and suppliers will feel the pinch. Free job training and unemployments benefits will also mean expenses.

Demand for the hospital beds and other skilled nursing home equipment comes mainly from right here in the United States. If production in Mexico is at a lower cost, will the company pass along economies to taxpayers through reduced costs, or will company investors be the only winners? Efforts to reach an officer of Camtec or spokesperson were unsuccessful, but a website press release quotes Mary Zappone, CEO of RecoverCare as saying the merger creates efficiencies that are important cost-savings in the health industry. “Combining two companies’ business processes and best practices will allow us to drive customer satisfaction and service levels to an even higher standard of excellence. It is an exciting time for RecoverCare Joerns, and for our customers across the industry.”

Not so excellent and exciting for a Cambridge relative who said, “Oh yeah? They’ll get cheaper workers but not better workers.”

So while the merger’s goal is to be an industry leader, three dozen employees are falling behind. After more than 30 years in Church Creek, the machinery in the plant will be silent on Sept. 30.

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