300 jobs safe as new owner buys Manchester plant

MANCHESTER, Iowa — About 300 jobs in Manchester are safe following the purchase of one of the city’s major employers.

Atlas Holdings, based in Greenwich, Conn., recently announced its acquisition of the North American assets of Exide Technologies LLC.

The purchase follows a decision in June by Exide to file for bankruptcy. At the time, the company had filed notice with the State of Iowa indicating that its plant in Manchester would close. However, company officials insisted it would remain open while the company searched for a buyer.

In making the purchase, Atlas Holdings announced the formation of Stryten Manufacturing, under which the Manchester plant will operate. Similar to Exide, Stryten will continue to produce battery technology.

The acquisition is being widely celebrated by local officials, who previously feared Delaware County’s second-largest employer would shutter.

“This is just huge for Manchester and the entire county,” said Donna Boss, executive director of Delaware County Economic Development. “It would have been devastating for us if the plant closed.”

With the exception of the name change, operations will largely remain the same at the battery manufacturing plant, said Melissa Floyd, vice president of communications for Stryten. All of the company’s 300 employees will maintain their positions, and a handful of positions have been added.

“It’s really good news and a great outcome for our employees and the Manchester community,” Floyd said. “Throughout it all, our plant employees have continued to operate flawlessly.”

She added that Stryten employees in Manchester will continue to create the same battery products they were producing under Exide.

“The battery manufacturing industry has remained strong,” she said. “Battery manufacturers, like Stryten, were deemed essential by the federal government, and we have continued to operate to meet the demand for transportation batteries during Covid-19.”

Boss said the securing of the manufacturing plant’s future is a continued indicator of economic recovery in Delaware County following the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unemployment rate in Delaware County was 4.6% in July, significantly higher than the 2.3% jobless rate reported in July 2019. However, the most recent unemployment figures represent an improvement compared to June, when Delaware County had an unemployment rate of nearly 6%.

“Many of our manufacturers are saying they are getting back to pre-COVID(-19 pandemic) performance,” Boss said. “Now with this, we are looking forward to the future.”

About two months ago, Delaware County economic development officials celebrated another positive development when Stanley Black & Decker confirmed plans to triple the size of its facility in Manchester and bring 40 new jobs to the community.

News that the Exide plant will remain open represents another reason for enthusiasm in a year marked by challenges.

Dean Sherman, Manchester City Council member and chairman of the Delaware County Economic Development Board of Directors, said the acquisition of Exide will benefit the city greatly.

“Exide has been with us for a very long time, and they have families that go here and shop here,” Sherman said. “We are certainly thrilled with the new owners. We are blessed to not have any empty plants, and it looks like it will stay that way.”