Zero Corp., a 40-year-old manufacturer of metal container equipment, will move its Zero Enclosures Division from California to North Salt Lake where it will buy the 286,000-square-foot facility of US Home Manufactured Housing Corp., 200 North 400 West.

After some remodeling, the facility is expected to be in operation by June.It is understood that the Zero plant will employ some 400-500 people at full operation by the end of 1991, with that number eventually expected to grow to as many as 1,000.

With the announcement of plant closures at Rockwell International and Eastern Airlines in recent weeks, along with layoffs at Hill Air Force Base, Hercules, Unisys and others - a total of 3,713 jobs lost since last November - the announcement is a welcome one for the state.

Wilford Godbold Jr., Zero's president and chief executive officer, confirmed that he would be in Salt Lake City Wednesday for a press conference scheduled in the Governor's Board Room at 2 p.m. - past Deseret News deadlines - but he declined to discuss what would be said at that conference. "It wouldn't be appropriate at this time," he said.

At one time, it was thought Zero was going to move the Enclosures Division to a former Tupperware facility in Twin Falls, Idaho. That plan apparently didn't work for them, and a deal was eventually made to buy the old US Home modular housing plant that halted production in June 1986. US Home had bought the plant in 1983 from Interstate Homes Inc. and still owns it. The sale has not closed but no problems are anticipated. Price is unknown.

The US Home plant is west of the I-15 freeway in North Salt Lake. Rad Dye of Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services' Salt Lake office handled the deal. Bill Wood, former head of the Enclosures Division, now retired, was hired by Zero as a consultant and is credited with spearheading the move to Utah. Industry watchers speculate Zero Corp. is making the move to Utah to reduce operating expenses and improve company performance. It is also speculated that the company's current facility, near Burbank International Airport, has become too valuable to be used for the plant. One industry watcher estimated the facility in Utah could be bought for a fifth or less of the value of the Burbank plant.

Zero Corp. has four lines of business, each starting with the letter "c." The company manufactures cases, cabinets and cooling equipment for the electronics industry and cargo containers for the airline industry. Zero is the largest manufacturer within each of those niches in the United States.

The company is perhaps best known to the public for its Zero Halliburton line of luggage and camera equipment cases.

Halliburton was acquired by Zero in 1968. Zero, itself, was launched in 1952 and now has about $200 million in annual revenues with facilities in California, the Midwest, the East Coast and in England.

The company employs about 2,000 overall.