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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Itronix to close local plant, cutting at least 300 jobs

20 sales positions could stay in Valley

After more than two decades in the Spokane area, the General Dynamics Itronix operation will close at the end of the year, the company’s local business director said Monday.

Most of the 380 jobs at the tech company in the Spokane Valley will vanish, director John Schneider said.

About 20 workers may stay here, continuing sales and support jobs, Schneider said. Another 60 have the choice to relocate to the company’s new base in Sunrise, Fla.

The net result: At least 300 General Dynamics workers will lose their jobs, most by July 1, said Schneider, who is also moving to the Florida office.

The company makes ultrarugged laptops and handheld computers. Its main customers are communications firms, the Pentagon, emergency responders, utilities and companies with mobile workers.

General Dynamics Itronix will continue making those products and expanding its market share from Florida, Schneider said.

Harsh economic conditions played a part in the decision but were not the only factor in the decision to leave, he said.

“This isn’t a tweak. This isn’t a tune. This is a change that we needed to implement partially driven by the economy” but also by the changing nature of the business, Schneider said.

“We were profitable in 2008,” he said, adding, “but I’m not allowed to say more than that about financial performance.”

By moving, the company can leverage existing services and maximize the existing General Dynamics staff in Florida, Schneider said. He expects the move to lead to bottom-line returns in 2010 and 2011.

Originally spun out of Spokane meter-maker Itron, Itronix was acquired by General Dynamics in September 2005. About two-thirds of the company’s business comes from commercial customers and the rest from defense, company spokesperson Fran Jacques said. While military spending looks to remain steady, the next year looks like a tough one to sell more computers and technology to commercial customers, Jacques said.

“The people and companies who buy our machines are being very careful” as they weather the recession, Jacques said. “It’s important that we come to the table and offer prices that don’t impact their budgets.”

The company is one of the largest employers in Spokane Valley, having moved from Spokane in 2006. Because Itronix only leases the building, the move won’t affect property taxes paid to Spokane Valley.

Spokane Valley Mayor Rich Munson said apart from direct financial impact, the loss of 300 jobs will be felt across the area.

“It’s not going to be good for those people losing those jobs,” Munson said.

Staff writer Tom Sowa can be reached at (509) 459-5492 or