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Polaris plant in Milford

Polaris Industries announced Monday it would cease manufacturing at its Milford, Iowa, plant, which could impact as many as 300 jobs in the Iowa Great Lakes.

MILFORD, Iowa — Polaris Industries plans to put the brakes on production at its Milford, Iowa, plant by the end of the year.

Up to 300 workers will lose their jobs as a result of the move, a Polaris spokesperson confirmed late Monday after the company announced the closing of the plant.

Products built at the Milford plant included the Polaris Ranger and Rzr all-terrain vehicles and the Brutus utility vehicle. None of the products will be moved to the company's plant in nearby Spirit Lake, where Polaris employs about 650. Instead, the Milford production will shift to Polaris factories in Huntsville, Alabama; Roseau, Minnesota; and Anaheim, California.

The Milford building, a former furniture factory, will be repurposed as a storage/warehouse facility to support the Spirit Lake plant, which will continue to manufacture Indian Motorcycles.

Polaris spokesperson Kelly Basgen said she does not anticipate all 330 jobs in Milford will be lost in the transition.

“Due to the ability to place some employees in open positions in Spirit Lake or other Polaris facilities, we anticipate that a slightly lower number of employees — likely 275-300 — will be separated from Polaris,” she said.

Ken Pucel, Polaris executive vice president of operations, engineering and lean, said the Milford employees have "performed admirably" since the plant opened in 2013.

“Since we opened the Milford facility in 2013, the team has performed admirably,” he said.

"They played a critical role in making the first full year of Slingshot a success and have been instrumental in driving manufacturing improvements across our off-road vehicle products, and we sincerely appreciate their contributions to Polaris,” Pucel said. “We evaluated a number of options to streamline our plant infrastructure. While the decision was difficult because of the impact to jobs, discontinuing manufacturing at Milford — one of our smaller manufacturing facilities — allows us to consolidate the production of similar products and improve utilization of our available capacity across the rest of our U.S. manufacturing network.”

Monday's announcement is the latest job cuts in the Iowa Great Lakes region for the Twin Cities-based manufacturer of motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and electric vehicles. In January, Polaris reduced the workforce at its Spirit Lake plant after discontinuing its Victory brand of motorcycles that had been made at the 400,000-square-foot plant. Around 1,000 were employed at the Spirit Lake plant at its peak.

In Monday's news release, Polaris stressed the company remains committed to maintaining its presence in the Iowa Great Lakes region.

“Polaris’ Spirit Lake facility, just a few miles away from Milford, remains a critically important part of Polaris’ manufacturing footprint and will continue to serve as the manufacturing center of excellence for Indian Motorcycle," the company said in the release. "Polaris is making investments to enhance the Spirit Lake facility, including a new experience center, upgraded employee facilities and additional office space.”

Also Monday, Polaris announced it was transferring metal fabrication operations for its Pro Armor aftermarket products from its facility in Riverside, California, to its recently acquired Transamerican Auto Parts facility in Chula Vista, California. Pro Armor will maintain its presence in Riverside – including its business operations, R&D, and vehicle upfit services – but will relocate to a new building.

As a result of the closings in Iowa and California, a total of about 390 jobs will be impacted. Polaris said it is offering the opportunity for Milford and Riverside employees to relocate within its network, as well as providing resources including separation pay, assistance with health insurance coverage, and outplacement services.


Business reporter

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