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Genesis Casket Closing Operations

Genesis Casket Co. will shut its 3-year-old Eastside Indianapolis plant, laying off all 56 workers. The closing ends a well-funded attempt by Genesis’ owner, the Spanish metal-stamping giant Gestamp, to break into the casket-making business.

Genesis President Nick Proctor wouldn’t say why Gestamp is pulling the plug on the business. “Genesis is ceasing operations,” he said, but “I am not making any more comments.”

The workforce will be laid off from Dec. 27 to Jan. 9, the company said in a layoff notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Proctor wouldn’t say whether a sale of the business or its plant is in the offing.

Gestamp North America, of Troy, Mich., spent about $15 million to turn the former SMC auto-parts plant at 3011 N. Franklin Road into a casket plant. The 225,000-square-foot plant is considered one of the most automated and efficient casket-making operations in the country…

Proctor, who formerly oversaw Gestamp’s North American stamping plants, was brought in in 2012 to run the casket business, after it had a slower-than-hoped ramp-up and some early product quality problems. Gestamp hoped to parlay its expertise in producing high-quality stamped sheet metal for car bodies into making metal caskets, which require similar metal cutting, bending and finishing skills.

Unlike many competitors, Genesis sold its caskets using fixed, no-haggle prices, avoiding the variable pricing that’s common in the industry.

The closing of the plant means Genesis won’t collect the full amount of economic incentives offered by the state and city. The company pledged to hire 150 employees over time and would have earned property tax abatement over several years from the city and up to $4.5 million in state tax credits.