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Upstart local casket company about to go under

October 30, 2014

Genesis Casket Co., a locally based manufacturer that appeared to be on the fast track just a few years ago, has notified the state that it plans to close its Indianapolis headquarters, ending employment for 56 workers.

In a letter to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Genesis said it would permanently lay off the employees at its headquarters at 3011 N. Franklin Road between Dec. 27 and Jan. 9 “in conjunction with the permanent shutdown of that facility.”

Genesis executives reached by phone Wednesday declined to comment on the closure and referred IBJ to President Nick Proctor for questions. Proctor did not return a message left Wednesday afternoon.

Genesis, founded in 2010 as a subsidiary of Troy, Mich.-based Gestamp North America Inc., announced tax-incentive deals with the state and the city of Indianapolis in February 2011. As part of the deals, the company said it would spend $16.5 million to open a manufacturing and distribution center and hire 300 workers over a three-year period.

In the Feb. 23, 2011, press release, the company said 150 workers making an average wage of $26 per hour would be hired before summer of that year. The company expected to make 30,000 caskets in its first year of operation.  

In the release, the Indianapolis Economic Development Corp. said it offered the company $4.5 million in performance-based tax credits based on the company’s plans. Current information on the IEDC’s website, however, said the company stood to receive $2.3 million in tax breaks, but only received $189,980.

The city said it would offer Genesis a tax abatement and a $300,000 training grant.

According to connectingdirectors.com, a funeral directors website, Genesis began production at the plant by January 2012 with more than 100 workers, but soon began to struggle. The company touted flashy but affordable caskets priced at $899 and $999 that it sold directly to funeral homes in the Midwest.

Funeral industry veteran Tony Colson, who was appointed Genesis’ first CEO, left the company by May 2012 along with the vice president of operations.

The company told The Indianapolis Star in March that it suffered from initial startup problems with slow sales and product-quality issues, but had achieved 14 straight months of sales growth after hiring Proctor to replace Colson. Employment was "about 100" at the time, the company said.

Genesis said it spent more than $15 million to renovate its 225,000-square-foot headquarters facility. The building formerly housed the SMC Corp. plant, which relocated to Noblesville.

 

   






      
 

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