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Plant's closing will erase about 100 jobs

After years of doing business in Tarpon Springs, Metal Industries will close its doors and put nearly 100 people out of work next month.

Metal Industries makes grills for the air conditioning and heating industry and other metal products.

The company has operations in Mexico and several states, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Texas and California. It employs about 3,000 people nationwide.

On Dec. 31, the company will shut its Live Oak Street plant and lay off 94 workers there, according to a letter that Metal Industries president Roy Speaks sent last week to the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation.

The U.S. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 requires certain employers to provide notice to workers, the state and the city 60 days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.

Speaks and other officials at J.T. Walker Industries, Metal Industries' Clearwater-based parent company, did not return telephone calls from the Times Tuesday afternoon.

Tarpon Springs officials were notified about Metal Industries' plans a few days ago, city business services specialist Charles Attardo said.

Attardo said he is unaware of any specific plans to bring another business to the plant's location near the corner of Live Oak Street and U.S. 19.

"We'll just have to see how it goes," Attardo said. "Hopefully, we'll get someone in there soon."

Clearwater businessman James Talmage Walker founded his privately held company in 1956.

The company started by making window screens with aluminum frames. But now it has roughly 30 locations around the country making products for the building industry.

It is the second time in recent years that Metal Industries has laid off Tampa Bay area workers.

In January 2001, the company closed its Crystal River manufacturing plant, citing decreasing sales. About 50 of that plant's workers were subsequently offered jobs at Metal Industries' Tarpon Springs and Bushnell plants.