Rubbermaid Inc. will close its Cortland, N.Y., plant and is assessing operations worldwide in its restructuring program.
The consumer products giant announced Feb. 3 that it will shut the Cortland facility in April because it is not close enough to major customers. The operation includes injection and blow molding and makes about 300 plastic and rubber bath and hardware products for Rubbermaid's Housewares Division, said spokeswoman Leslie Mapes.
Mass merchandisers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kmart Corp. account for about 70 percent of Rubbermaid's home products sales and their distribution points are concentrated in the South and Midwest, Texas, Oregon and California, Mapes said in a telephone interview.
``Customers want a turnaround of 48 hours,'' she said.
Cortland was a viable operation when there were more regional retailers in the northeast United States. Ten years ago Wal-Mart and Kmart absorbed only 30 percent of Rubbermaid's home products output. As customers moved, Rubbermaid focused Cortland on bath and hardware products to boost its efficiency, but it was not enough to offset higher shipping costs, Mapes said. The closure will affect 467 jobs at the 500,000-square-foot facility.
Mapes said her firm will move Cortland's equipment to other, undisclosed facilities and sell the building. The operation contracted out molding to only a few local companies after Rubbermaid began trimming its supplier base a few years ago.
The closure is part of a major restructuring that the Wooster, Ohio, firm hopes will save it $200 million annually beginning in 2000. Last month it said it will centralize purchasing at its Wooster head office and share manufacturing among its divisions. It also expects closer alliances with suppliers to help drive product innovation.
As its operations share ``best practices,'' Rubbermaid could bring more plastics processing in-house, a spokeswoman said.