A Whirlpool Corp. plastics plant in South Carolina soon will have a new occupant - Little Tikes Co. The Hudson, Ohio, toy maker is buying Whirlpool's 283,000-square-foot plant in Columbia, S.C., in a deal expected to be completed June 1.
Separately, Little Tikes continues to expand into commercial playground equipment, acquiring a Canadian company, Par-Rec Holdings Inc., makers of Paris Playground Equipment.
As it said it would last year, Whirlpool is closing the Columbia facility and laying off about 500 employees, in a move to get out of captive molding.
The appliance maker, which had owned the plant since 1986 as part of its KitchenAid unit, ran 75 injection molding machines there.
The deal does not include injection presses. Little Tikes will continue to outsource all of its injection molded parts, and the Columbia facility will do roto-molding and assembly exclusively, according to a Little Tikes spokeswoman.
The South Carolina plant is Little Tikes' eighth in North America, and the company's 12th worldwide.
Little Tikes, a subsidiary of Wooster, Ohio-based Rubbermaid Inc., will hire 60-70 workers immediately to begin training in July.
Production will begin in August. The firm said it expects to hire 150 more workers by year's end.
Little Tikes declined to say how many rotomolding machines will operate in the Columbia plant.
Meanwhile, Little Tikes also said it bought Canada's Par-Rec, whose products are similar to those manufactured by Iron Mountain Forge Corp., which are made of several materials, including rotationally molded plastic parts, as well as wood and metal.
Par-Rec Holdings in Paris, Ontario, will become part of Little Tikes' Commercial Play Systems business. In December 1992, Rubbermaid acquired Iron Mountain Forge in Farmington, Mo.
In October 1994, the housewares maker bought a second playground equipment manufacturer, Glenwood Systems Pty. Ltd. of Victoria, Australia. Glenwood products are sold under the Ausplay trade name.
Paris Playground Equipment beefs up the Little Tikes Commercial Play Systems' business in Canada, the northeastern United States and Europe, Rubbermaid said.
Terms of the acquisition, announced April 26, were not disclosed.