SnugTop has been manufacturing hard-top truck-bed covers in Long Beach for 62 years. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

For 56 years, SnugTop has manufactured aftermarket fiberglass truck caps, also known as camper shells, at its 5-acre facility in West Long Beach. But operations will cease for good Oct. 15, according to the company.

“Long Beach has been our home for many years [and] we are proud of the work our team members have done in this location,” John Aleva, president of SnugTop parent company Truck Accessories Group, said in an email. “Unfortunately, we have outgrown the facility and cannot successfully expand to meet the needs of our customers.”

SnugTop will relocate its Long Beach operations to Mexicali, a move that will impact 123 employees, according to city spokesman Kevin Lee. Long Beach, though, has already begun assisting those affected workers—and is hopeful about what the property’s availability could mean for the area.

Long Beach officials were unaware of TAG’s decision to leave the city until the company submitted a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter to the city’s Pacific Gateway Workforce Innovation Network on Aug. 17, Lee said. Under the California Labor Code, WARN requires employers to give a 60-day notice to affected employees as well as state and local representatives prior to a plant closing or mass layoff.

Pacific Gateway filed a petition on Aug. 18 to the U.S. Department of Labor to start an investigation to determine if impacted employees are eligible for additional benefits on top of those normally available for dislocated workers in California. The petition was approved on Sept. 13 and will equate to a pool of several million dollars in additional benefits for workers seeking retraining assistance, Lee said.

Dislocated employees have already begun receiving rapid reemployment services such as webinars, one-on-one job search assistance and informational sessions through Pacific Gateway, Lee said.

SnugTop, originally named Custom Fiberglass Manufacturing Co., was founded in 1959 when Bob Kyle began building aftermarket hardtops for European sports cars he called “Snug Products.” The transition to truck caps came with the company’s move to Long Beach in 1965.

The company was acquired by TAG in 2016. The conglomerate is the largest manufacturer and supplier of fiberglass truck caps for recreational and commercial vehicles, according to an announcement. Headquartered in Elkhart, Ind., TAG also owns LEER, Century and BedSlide brands.

“Closing a facility is never an easy decision,” Aleva said in a press release. “For the security and longevity of the company, we are operating in a responsible manner to help solidify the company’s place in the industry, while allowing for continued growth and a strong employee base.”

SnugTop will vacate some 5.17 acres just off the 710 Freeway on the Westside, including 117,888 square feet of improvements, according to an INCO brochure. Though operations will end on Oct. 15, it will take the company weeks to fully withdraw from the space, Aleva said, noting they will be out before the end of the year.

Due to its proximity to the Port of Long Beach, vacancy on the city’s industrial Westside is scarce, often with as much as 99% of space leased. The property is a “rare opportunity in the area,” according to INCO Commercial President Bill Townsend, who is representing property owner JBD Partnership.

“This is the first time the property has ever been on market,” Townsend said in an email, noting that he and INCO Associate Jason Price have a lot of interest in the site.

For the city, SnugTop’s move opens up new opportunities for other businesses and industries, Lee said. The city has had high demand among space, technology and advanced manufacturing companies in recent years, including the addition of four satellite launch system manufacturers in the last six years.

“We are seeing voids being filled quickly,” Lee said. “Long Beach is becoming a model for the modern economy.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.