Newell Rubbermaid Inc. has promised to streamline production, and its latest target is its Graco Children's Products Inc. unit, which will close its injection molding plant in Elverson, Pa., by May 1, laying off 350 employees.
``Graco will end up smaller and more profitable,'' Joe Galli, Newell's chief executive officer, said in a recent conference call discussing year-end results.
The unit makes car seats, strollers and highchairs. Sandy Springs, Ga.-based Newell Rubbermaid is exiting resin-intensive products. Officials have complained about raw material price increases and competition in child-care products.
Graco had been focused on making low-cost products, and had seen prices drift down. Now the company wants to develop products that target the higher end of the market.
Stopol Inc. of Solon, Ohio, will handle the auction at the Elverson site on May 11. The auction will include 10 late-model Van Dorn and Cincinnati Milacron injection molding presses with clamping forces of 250-1,100 tons, and various toolroom equipment including grinders, saws and mills.
In Pennsylvania, the announcement was not exactly a surprise.
``We've always been proud to have Graco, because it's a national brand that's associated with our region,'' said Dale Mahle, president of the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce in Pottstown, Pa. ``Once Newell Rubbermaid purchased Graco, we were concerned about it [closing].''
Graco's employment base had been shrinking during the past five years, indicating the plant eventually might close, Mahle said in a Feb. 16 telephone interview. Graco now has one manufacturing plant, in Macedonia, Ohio.