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Disston closing Deerfield tool-making plant

The saw blade and tool maker is downsizing its facility to meet its needs as it moves many manufacturing functions to China.

“We’re transitioning our manufacturing from South Deerfield to Stephen Chen’s facility in China. It’s happened over the past five years,” said Mark Marzeotti, vice president of sales and marketing.

Chen is the CEO and president of the 165-year-old company.

Disston will manufacture products in China to compete with Black & Decker/Dewalt, Skil Bosch, Stanley, Irwin and many other national brands.

In Chicopee, the company will manufacture Rem-Grit Band Saws, reciprocating, jigsaw and circular saw blades for the industrial markets.

“We changed our manufacturing site in Chicopee and China to ultimately lower our costs,” Marzeotti said. “(The new facility) is half the size. It is the right size for what our needs are. Our costs will be lower and it will increase the opportunity to increase revenue.” Marzeotti confirmed that some equipment has moved to China and some to Chicopee in April.

The move comes after the manufacturer laid off 15 employees in March. Currently, the company has 50 employees, all of whom will be moving to the new facility.

“It’s something that has been shared with every employee,” Marzeotti said.

Disston has leased the Deerfield site for 15 years.

The 270,000-square-foot Deerfield facility is valued at $7,416,800. The company pays $111,850 in taxes to the town.

In contrast, the new facility has roughly 20,480 square feet of office space and 109,271 square feet of manufacturing space. The building sits on 4.5 acres.

So far, Marzeotti said the plan to increase revenue is already working.

In the past year and a half, Disston increased sales to True Value from 100 products to 700, doubled business with Sears and is now in the process of shipping 22 new items to Kmart to be displayed in all Kmart stores under the Craftsman brand.

Disston is one of the last manufacturing companies to move operations abroad, Marzeotti said.

“Essentially, most U.S. manufacturing has changed,” he said. “We wanted to continue to make a product in the USA for as long as we could. Unfortunately, users make a choice based on price. We’re able to make a better product for a lower or similar price in China.”

Marzeotti said the decision was made as a result of low wages in China compared to the United States.

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