POOR economic conditions have forced the closure of one of Gympie's largest employers, well-known local family company J Smith & Sons.
Yesterday afternoon the company's 67 staff met at the Gympie Industrial Estate's headquarters to be told J Smith & Son was going into voluntary liquidation and their jobs were gone.
J Smith & Sons managing director Kerren Smith said in a press release it was a "sad day".
He said after 113 years of the company providing high-quality products, training many skilled tradesmen, employment in the region and contributing to the community, the company had no other choice.
"This is a sad day for the Smith family, the many long-serving and loyal employees of J Smith & Sons and Gympie," Mr Smith said.
He said the manufacturing environment in Australia has been extremely difficult in recent years, particularly since the GFC.
"It is evident how difficult the manufacturing environment has become when we see companies such as Caterpillar shifting their operations from Burnie in Tasmania to Thailand.
"The car industry is winding back in Australia where there will probably be no cars manufactured within the next five years."
He said unlike many other manufacturers, J Smith & Sons decided to maintain its manufacturing and jobs in Gympie rather than outsourcing it all to Asia and importing the products into Australia.
J Smith and Sons started building horse-drawn vehicles in 1900 at its Monkland workshop and at its height, employed more than 100 staff at its Gympie Industrial Estate factory and provided an extra 30 to 40 fulltime jobs to sub-contractors in the Gympie/Wide Bay area.
In recent years the business established itself as a premium supplier of specialised coal and hard-rock mining transport equipment, technologically advanced car carrying semi-trailers, low loaders, cane and sugar transport equipment and specialised transport solutions.
During the last 10 years J Smith & Sons Pty Ltd has invested extensively in research and development, developing innovative solutions for the mining and car-carrying industries.
The company has won many prestigious awards for its innovation and products.