Polaris to Close Fargo Plant; 80 Workers Affected

The recreational vehicle manufacturer said that some employees are being offered jobs at locations where work is being transferred-including Wyoming, Minnesota; Spirit Lake, Iowa; and office locations in the Twin Cities.

About 80 employees will be affected by Medina-based Polaris Industries' decision to close a plant in Fargo, North Dakota, that it's acquiring later this month with the purchase of Global Electric Motorcars, LLC (GEM).

Company spokeswoman Marlys Knutson told Twin Cities Business that “some” of the 80 Fargo employees will be offered positions at other Polaris locations, but she would not specify how many.

Those who are not offered positions will receive standard severance packages, Knutson said.

The company did not specify why it decided to close the Fargo plant, but said that it will provide more information-including how many of the 80 workers will stay employed at Polaris-once the GEM deal closes.

The Fargo operations are being moved to several Polaris facilities. Product development work is being relocated to the company's facility in Wyoming, Minnesota, and manufacturing work will be moved to Spirit Lake, Iowa. Other administrative positions will be moved to offices in the Twin Cities.

Polaris announced the acquisition of GEM in April, and the deal is expected to close later this month. But the jobs at the Fargo plant won't be moved right away; employees at the plant will continue to work for a minimum of 60 days after the deal closes.

GEM, a subsidiary of Chrysler Group, LLC, manufactures low-speed electric-powered vehicles, and it recorded roughly $30 million in sales in 2010, according to Polaris.

The GEM acquisition is one of two recent moves Polaris has made to strengthen its on-road vehicle portfolio. In April, the company-which also manufactures off-road and all-terrain vehicles-purchased Kings Mountain, North Carolina-based Indian Motorcycle.

The company bought Indian Motorcycle from British private equity firms Stellican Limited, and Novator Partners, LLP, and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Polaris is among Minnesota's 30-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.99 billion in 2010-up 27 percent from 2009.

Net income totaled $147.1 million last year, up 46 percent from 2009. Earlier this year, Polaris doled out a record $13.6 million profit share payment to its employees-which amounted to nearly 19 percent of their annual salaries, on average.