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Prestress Engineering sold to Wisconsin company

Company warns of 97 layoffs, but says most will be rehired

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 5:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 5:43 p.m. CDT

PRAIRIE GROVE – Prestress Engineering Co. warned the state that it will lay off 97 employees after selling to a larger Wisconsin company, but the workers are expected to be rehired.

Prairie Grove-based Prestress Engineering makes concrete products for railroads, highways, waterways and building construction industries. It was sold to Marathon, Wis.-based County Materials Corp. for an undisclosed price, Prestress Engineering President Chris Newkirk said.

Prestress Engineering warned the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that it would lay off 97 employees, according to a report released Thursday. The layoffs would start Friday, the report said.

The company has eight employees at its headquarters at 2220 Route 176, Prairie Grove. The remainder work at the company’s production facility in Blackstone, Newkirk said.

The production facility makes prestressed concrete bridge beams, sound walls and retaining walls for the transportation infrastructure market. It also makes recast structural/architectural concrete products for multifamily housing, according to the company’s website.

Newkirk said he expects the employees to be rehired by County Materials Corp.

“We’re confident everyone will get rehired by the new owners,” he said.

County Materials is a family-owned manufacturing organization of companies with more than 42 locations in the U.S., according to its website. Messages left for company officials weren’t immediately returned.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Employment and Training was working to schedule a pre-layoff workshop with Prestress Engineering employees Thursday, said Julie Courtney, director of the McHenry County Workforce Network.

Such workshops teach employees about what government services and benefits are available to them, Courtney said.

Stockholders decided to sell Prestress Engineering, which had annual revenue of more than $5 million, because business had slumped, Newkirk said. CM Acquisitions LLC, based in Chicago, acquired controlling interest in Prestress Engineering in 2010, Newkirk said. Officials at CM Acquisitions couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The decision to sell was difficult, Newkirk said.

“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years,” he said. “But it was time.”

Newkirk and his wife, Kristine, plan to continue their philanthropic work in McHenry County.

“That’s the most important thing at this time,” he said.

The Newkirks are life members of the Centegra Foundation Board of Directors. They also have supported organizations such as the Family Health Partnership Clinic in Woodstock.

Newkirk retains other business interests in the county. He owns part of Prairie Isle Golf Course in Prairie Grove and Boone Creek Golf Club in Bull Valley.

“The Newkirks have been a big part of this community,” said Pam Cumpata, president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.

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