Hollidaysburg Herald - Reliable News for Hollidaysburg

WATCO Closing Deals Another Blow to Area's Employment Statistics


Last updated 7/26/2019 at 4:38pm

Rick Boston

Another 70 jobs are leaving the area with the announcement last week that WATCO, a railroad tank car cleaning and repair facility in Hollidaysburg, will be shutting its doors by September.

Workers were told early Friday morning, July 19, that they had 60 days of work left at the facility before the doors are permanently shut.

WATCO LLC, based in Pittsburg, Kansas, was formed in 1983. It has four divisions including its mechanical division with 19 car repair shops throughout the United States.

News of the closing comes just months after the region lost more than 300 jobs with the sudden closure of North American Communications in Duncansville.

Unlike WATCO, North American employees were not given a notice before the company locked its doors, prompting the filing of lawsuits that are still pending.

Another blow to the local workforce came last winter when Harbison Walker in Sproul announced it was closing.

The silica brick producing plant began operations in 1914 as Standard Refractories before being bought out and renamed General Refractories.

General Refractories operated two plants, Sproul and Claysburg, until 1987 when the Claysburg plant closed.

A merger of refractory companies in the latter part of the 20th century and again in 2015 brought with it the name change to Harbison Walker.

At its peak, the plants had a combined workforce of nearly 1,000. When the closing of the Sproul plant was announced, there were about 80 employees remaining.

With the announcement of Harbison Walker shutting down, the Pennsylvania Career Link's Rapid Response Team will began reaching out to employees to help them navigate through the process of transitioning into a new career.


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