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Glass Group sale finalized

PARK HILLS – It’s official. Gujarat Glass Ltd. is the new owner of the Park Hills glass factory, formerly owned by The Glass Group Inc. The deal was closed between the entities Tuesday morning according to Plant Manager Ken Sokol.

&#8220The deal became finalized today (Tuesday),” Sokol said. &#8220This is a very positive time for this factory and for the employees.”

Sokol said representatives of Gujarat would be meeting with management and employees at the Park Hills factory today.

Sokol announced earlier this week that he was resigning from his position as plant manager effective on Friday.

&#8220My leaving has nothing to do with the ownership situation,” Sokol said. &#8220It has to do with an opportunity that I have been offered with another company. After discussing the opportunity with my family, I have decided to take it. It has nothing to do with Gujarat.”

Several of the employees at the Park Hills factory credited Sokol with helping save their jobs by finding a suitor for glass-producing plant.

&#8220I have never personally, one on one, spoke to Ken Sokol,” said Pam Stricker, an employee at the Park Hills factory. &#8220But, I have watched him from the beginning of this whole bankruptcy process take on a defiance of sorts. He was bound and determined that this plant was not going to close. And, if it did, it wouldn’t be from the lack of trying on his part. He rose to the occasion and fought long and hard for us.”

Sokol downplayed his role in finding a suitor for the Park Hills factory and attributed the sale to the work of the employees.

&#8220Any coach can be successful if they have a great team,” Sokol said. &#8220The folks here are a great team. Their work ethic is second to none. I can’t say enough about the people here and this community.”

Sokol said he wasn’t sure who would be replacing him on Friday, but did say that by the close of business on Friday there would be some form of plan communicated to the employees at the Park Hills factory.

A union official said due to the deal being closed on Tuesday, they recently approved 5-year labor agreement also went into effect on Tuesday.

&#8220The raises and the other benefits kicked in on Tuesday,” the official said. &#8220I’m just glad it’s all over and I’m ready to start working with the new owners.”

On Oct. 14, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Walsh reversed his decision to sell The Glass Group’s Park Hills plant to Stolzle-Oberglas. Creditors objected to the initial sale to Stolzle-Oberglas and filed the motion upon which Walsh reversed his decision. The move set the stage for the purchase of the plant by Gujarat.

The United Steelworkers of America Local 8734 went on to approve a labor contract with Gujarat on Oct. 19.

The Glass Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 1 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. At the time officials said the company was filing for bankruptcy protection in order to obtain additional financing. The Park Hills factory along with other assets owned by The Glass Group went on the auction block on Aug. 29 in Philadelphia, Pa.

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