Fate of Semco properties remains uncertain
By Jeremy Ratliff
Merrill Foto News Editor
MERRILL – There have been plenty of questions and very few answers regarding the former Semling Menke Company, Inc. and the 141 workers left displaced as a result of its closure last month.
Amidst the concerns of former employees and their families regarding the closure of the Merrill facilities lie questions of the company’s now vacant and dormant properties.
What is to become of the two properties and related buildings the window manufacturer owned and operated? Will they be sold to another manufacturer? Will the city be taking them over?
According to City Administrator Dave Johnson, the City of Merrill has similar concerns, but currently does not have much more of an answer than John Q. Citizen.
“We have had internal discussions concerning ultimate disposition of the property and buildings,” Johnson said. “We are concerned that they not remain vacant. The city is not in a position to take possession or raze the vacant buildings. Semco still has to settle their financial matters, part of which I believe will be an effort to sell the properties for use by another manufacturing firm. How this plays out will determine whether or not the city has an interest in any of the properties, or whether or not they would even be available for any kind of new development.”
The city’s primary concerns revolve around job retention and maintenance of the city’s tax base, Johnson added.
After nearly 80 years as a premier employer in the Merrill area, manufacturing windows and doors for customers across the country, Semling Menke Inc. abruptly ceased operations, effective Tuesday, Dec. 31. The closure left approximately 120 employees out of work.
As part of a letter dated Monday, Dec. 30, written by company president Patrick L. Semling, employees were advised the facilities located at 605 N. Ohio Street and 410 Douglas Street would be permanently closed, effective as of close of business on Dec. 31.
“As a result of this action, all positions, approximately 120, will be immediately eliminated,” Semling stated in the letter. “Because of lack of orders, the inability to obtain further financing, insufficient cash and the inability to sell the company as a going concern, we are unable to continue operation of the business. The company has been pursuing additional financing to stay operating in Merrill, but has been unsuccessful and was unable to provide any notice until now.”
The letter from Semling went on to state, “Semling Menke Company Inc. truly regrets these actions are necessary. We deeply appreciate the loyalty of our employees and our foremost concern is to help our workers find other employment.”
On Thursday, Jan 2., the state’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) issued a press release acknowledging the Semco closure and subsequent workforce reduction. As part of the release, the department indicated the closure would impact 141 workers.
“Semco Windows & Doors has provided formal notice of a workforce reduction at its Merrill location: 605 N. Ohio St. and 410 Douglas St. A total of 141 workers will be affected. This reduction has already occurred at close of business on Dec. 31, 2019. DWD and its regional partner, the North Central Workforce Development Board, will offer rapid response services to the company and the affected workers.”
Efforts to make contact with Semco or Semling regarding the closure and properties have been unsuccessful.