Newell Rubbermaid Inc. continues to close manufacturing plants, with the Jan. 22 announcement that it will shutter a 132-employee blow molding plant operated by its Little Tikes Co. business in Sebring, Ohio.
The 11-year-old plant will close by the end of March, Little Tikes communications manager Laurie Yingling said by phone Jan. 22. A ``small number'' of the Sebring jobs will be transferred to Little Tikes' headquarters and manufacturing site in Hudson, Ohio, she said.
``Global overcapacity within the toy industry has caused a competitive disadvantage in our business,'' Little Tikes President Clancy Lavins said in a news release. ``By consolidating our domestic manufacturing in the Hudson location, Little Tikes will achieve savings in overhead costs and increase our operational efficiency.''
The 320,000-square-foot Sebring plant makes parts for picnic tables and basketball sets, which are assembled in Hudson. Some equipment will be transferred from Sebring to Hudson, although Yingling said no decision has been made on the future of the site itself.
Transitional programs including severance packages, outplacement programs and on-site jobs fairs will be offered to Sebring employees.
The Sebring closing leaves Hudson as Little Tikes' only remaining North American production site. The firm closed plants last year in City of Industry, Calif., and Farmington, Mo. Little Tikes products also are made at Newell Rubbermaid facilities in Europe and South America.
Announcement of the Sebring closing comes little more than a month after Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid surprised the industry by confirming the closing of its 850-employee Rubbermaid Home Products plant in Wooster, Ohio. The Rubbermaid unit already had closed four plants in 2003 - in Cleburne, Texas; Greer, S.C.; Canton, Ohio; and Winfield, Kan.
Through the first nine months of 2003, Rubbermaid was the largest of Newell Rubbermaid's four units, with sales of more than $2.2 billion. Rubbermaid's nine-month sales total was 42 percent of Newell Rubbermaid's core sales and was more than 1 percent higher than in the same period in 2002. But its profit dropped more than 15 percent to $168 million in the same comparison.