Air Brake closing Ontario plant; 50 jobs moving to Watertown

New York Air Brake LLC (NYAB) is closing its Knorr Brake Limited (KBL) facility in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and is expected to move up to 50 jobs to Watertown.

The phased transition will begin in the fall and operations are expected to cease by early 2014, according to a Air Brake press release. The KBL facility produces New York Air Brake’s locomotive braking products.

Production is planned to be moved to the company’s Watertown facility, potentially adding 50 production jobs. The move is in direct response to NYAB’s initiative to improve total cost structure and align its manufacturing facilities for better business unit focus.

“This was a very difficult business decision, taken only after careful evaluation and consideration, especially for those impacted by the Kingston facility’s closing,” said Michael Hawthorne, New York Air Brake President, in a press release.

“Despite significant productivity gains resulting from the dedication and hard work of our KBL employees and capital improvements made at the Kingston plant over the last several years, two significant factors contributed to this closure action,” he said. “First is the globalization of the Company’s business, which places greater pressure to reduce costs to a level that allows NYAB to compete effectively in the worldwide marketplace. Second is the strategic direction New York Air Brake has established across the organization to align its factories with its product lines and services to achieve planned productivity, flexibility, and efficiency improvements necessary in Watertown if we are going to be successful long term.”

Hawthorne additionally noted that NYAB’s Watertown facility is the sole location for the design, testing, and manufacture of heavy haul freight products. Shifting production of locomotive products to this facility is a natural step to consolidate all OEM manufacturing under one roof.

The Kingston facility –- which opened in the mid-1980s –- employs 59 hourly and 27 salaried employees.

“We are committed to making every effort to ensure that the needs of the affected employees will be met. To that end, we have enlisted the aid of outplacement and governmental agencies that will assist those impacted in securing alternate employment opportunities,” said Hawthorne.

New York Air Brake LLC, a member of the Knorr-Bremse Group, has been serving the rail industry since 1890. An industry pioneer, employing more than 800 people, New York Air Brake is headquartered in Watertown, with manufacturing plants in Riverside, MO; West Chicago, IL; China Grove, NC and TDS, a technology development unit located in Irving, TX. For more information, visit