QRP Inc., a manufacturer of locking quick release pins for the aerospace industry, has closed its Brunswick County headquarters.
QRP's facility, previously at 2307 Mercantile Drive NE in Leland, closed in December and moved to Ohio, company officials said in an email last week. The move was a decision by the firm's parent company to consolidate into a larger facility there.
A few employees relocated to Ohio with the move, a QRP official said in an email, but when asked, could not say how many people were employed with the company before the move.
State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) reports did not show a layoff notice for QRP. N.C. Department of Commerce officials said in an email Friday that the state did not receive a WARN notice, which typically reports mass layoffs, from a company by the name QRP within the past two years.
According to Brunswick Community College job training officials, the company move impacted at least 60 displaced employees, who are now being worked with to get training.
QRP's former headquarters building is currently vacant and up for lease, said Drew O'Reilly, a property manager with KAK Property Group, which owns the site. The property group is currently making improvements to the site, such as new carpet and paint, to get it ready for a new tenant to come in.
The building is 50,000 square feet and expandable up to 70,000 square feet, she said, adding "it has a lot of office space and open shop floor and great for manufacturing. There's nothing available like it right now."
The site is also being marketed on the website of Brunswick Business and Industry Development (Brunswick BID), a local economic development organization that oversees business and industry recruitment and retention efforts in Brunswick County.
Economic development officials say that the declining state of the aviation and aerospace industry, specifically troubled aviation giant Boeing, was attributed to the company's move, on top of its transition under the umbrella of Stanley Black & Decker.
"I believe there were multiple reasons for QRP’s decision to relocate to Ohio. The parts they manufactured were used in aviation and the impacts of COVID, among other things associated with the aviation industry, had a negative impact on QRP," Bill Early, executive director of Brunswick BID, said in an email.
QRP has been a corporate contributor to Brunswick County, added Early, who helps lead economic development efforts in the county.
QRP is a Consolidated Aerospace Manufacturing (CAM) company, which joined Stanley Black & Decker Inc. under its ownership in 2020.
QRP, which was founded in 1972 as Waldick Aerospace Devices in New York, moved its headquarters to the Leland area in 1994, according to the website.
When the company joined the CAM group of companies in 2014, it "continued focus on quick release mechanisms and designing structural latches for major aerospace OEMs," stated its website. The company provides latching solutions for aircraft such as the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320neo.
Boeing's 737 MAX jets, after two deadly plane crashes, were grounded for much of 2019 and 2020. The company, along with the rest of the aviation industry, continued to suffer from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel worldwide.
Local efforts through area workforce development groups, including Brunswick Community College's Customized Training Program, have been working with at least 60 former QRP employees displaced from the move, said George Yu, director of the Customized Training program at BCC.
“We worked with them to get them retrained,” Yu said. “When something like that happens … BCC comes in and will help train some of the individuals in resume writing, interviewing skills, employability skills to help the transition and this is at no cost to the individuals."
BCC's Customized Training Program works with the top 20 to 35 employers in the county to help train employees, including those in local manufacturing, distribution and logistics, in major areas such as safety, quality and productivity improvements, Yu said. It also helps individuals with the necessary training to find a job again.
The college has been working with QRP in various roles for about 15 years as part of its program, Yu said, adding that at its peak, QRP employed about 100 people.
Through a partnership with NCWorks and Cape Fear Workforce Development Board, the college has helped QRP's former employees transition through Human Resource Development classes, which include employability skills, resume writing and interviewing skills.
But that training is only one piece of the work, Yu said. The other groups also help place individuals in jobs.
For the QRP closure, NCWorks partnered with BCC to provide on-site information sessions and job preparedness seminars.
"An instructor from BCC and NCWorks held three on-site sessions with the employees where they created/updated their resumes, assisted with job search and provided interviewing practice," said Erin Easton, business engagement manager for the Cape Fear Workforce Development Board, in an email.
"NCWorks contacted local employers to refer effected employees to job openings. Employees interested in free services registered with NCWorks at the event," she said.
NCWorks staff began working one-on-one with individuals to assist them with paid training opportunities through a work experience program, providing opportunities for direct-hire and engaging businesses to hire the former QRP employees through an on-the-job training program, Easton said.
When a business in the Cape Fear Region announces a closure or a downsize, the Cape Fear Workforce Development Board engages the business to assist employees who will be out of a job, Easton said.
"The plan typically involves staff from local NCWorks Career Centers meeting with the employees prior to the business closing to assist with resume development, interviewing preparation, job search skills and informing the soon-to-be dislocated employees about free services and training opportunities through NCWorks," she said. "A representative from the Department of Employment Security also attends the event to share information about unemployment benefits and how to apply. These events can be held virtually as well during the COVID pandemic."
Work with QRP's former employees is still ongoing, Easton said.
"We hate to lose them," Early said about the company. "We are concerned about the employees that were committed to QRP for so many years. I know there are other existing manufacturing firms in Brunswick County that are interested in attracting these employees to their companies."