Newell Rubbermaid Inc. is taking an ax to its Rubbermaid Commercial Products division.
Less than two months after announcing the massive restructuring of its Rubbermaid Home Products business, the consumer products giant said it will close the Commercial Products division's Greenville, N.C., operation by April. The plant makes an array of buckets, brushes and other cleaning supplies.
Commercial Products' headquarters plant in Winchester, Va., might take over some or most of Greenville's production. The division said in early 2002 that it would expand its Winchester operation. Although the company provided few details at the time, a news release issued by the state's governor said the company would invest $45 million in the project and add 250 employees. Rubbermaid Commercial was established in Winchester in 1967.
Newell Rubbermaid officials could not be reached, but according to a Dow Jones report, Greenville has 284 production workers and 30 salaried employees, and manufacturing will shift to several domestic and foreign plants. A Greenville official quoted in the report said global competition and price pressure made running Greenville unfeasible.
Rubbermaid bought the Greenville operation in 1994 when it was Empire Brushes Inc. Other Empire plants were in Suffolk, Va.; Freeport, Ill.; and Sparks, Nev. Empire posted $65 million in annual sales prior to the purchase. Rubbermaid's major cleaning products plant was the former Viking Brush Ltd. in Montreal.
Newell Rubbermaid is paying a hefty price to become leaner. The company recorded a loss of $211.6 million for its fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $95.8 million a year earlier. The huge loss was due to restructuring and other charges and costs of exiting product lines. Without those charges, the company would have made a profit of $110.8 million, vs. $132.3 million.
Newell Rubbermaid Chief Executive Officer Joseph Galli said his firm will continue to reconfigure, exit low-profit margin areas and sell nonstrategic businesses.
``When we exit 2004, we believe this company will be a much leaner organization that is ready to maximize shareholder value,'' Galli said in news release reporting the firm's financial results for 2003.