Employees make final gift before closing doors

COLUMBIA CITY — As a local factory prepares to close its doors, management and the rest of the workforce decided to make a positive statement on the way out.“Through a sad time, we’re doing something positive for the community,” said Mary Ritter, the administrative assistant at Eaton Hydraulics, which is closing as of today.The company agreed to give the 16 soon-to-be displaced employees a chance to bid on various items of company property, and in turn would donate the proceeds to the local United Way.“They’ve (Eaton) been a big supporter of the United Way for years and it just took me by surprise that the employees would want to give back to the community in their final week,” said John Black of the local non-profit.Black was on hand at the Columbia City factory Wednesday afternoon to receive a check for $15,334.“United Way is a big non-profit that is supported by Eaton,” said Business Operations Manager Randy Agler.Agler said the decision to close the local operation was a corporate one.“The product we make is not a core product for them,” he said.The bulk of the employees work their last day today, but three will stay on to complete the shutdown over the next few weeks, Ritter said.However, the mood at the check presentation Wednesday was upbeat.“You doing this makes me about want to cry,” Black told the workers, telling them the money would go toward day-to-day operating expenses at the non-profit.