Newell Rubbermaid Inc. will close its 300,000-square-foot Goody Products Inc. factory in rural Manchester, Ga., which has turned out combs and hair brushes since 1963.
The plant is the latest casualty in Newell Rubbermaid's plan to shutter one-third of its 80 manufacturing sites in the next three years.
When the plant closes in July, Newell Rubbermaid will move some Goody work to its other factories and outsource the rest. ``What gets outsourced will get outsourced to China,'' said Todd Helms, Goody's vice president of human resources.
Newell Rubbermaid bought Goody Products in 1993.
Helms said the plant uses several manufacturing processes, including injection molding and blow molding, to make hair accessories such as combs, brushes, rollers, bobby pins and travel-related items. The plant molds products for Goody as well as other Newell Rubbermaid divisions, he said in a telephone interview Jan. 10.
He declined to say how many injection presses and blow molding machines the plant houses.
Goody employed more than 1,500 at its peak level in the 1970s, according to Manchester Mayor Dorsey Wilson. The plant worked three shifts a day, five or six days a week. ``Then it got real competitive. They did some automation and cut back a lot of employees,'' he said.
Helms said Newell Rubbermaid invested in process improvements like lean manufacturing, rather than robots, in recent years.
Imported hair-care products also hurt the U.S. operation, the company acknowledged in a Jan. 6 news release about the shutdown. ``Today's announcement is a necessary response to the global competitive market in which we compete,'' said Chris Van Dyke, vice president of the supply chain for Newell Rubbermaid's Home & Family Group, which includes Goody.
Goody now employs only about 200 at the Manchester plant, but Wilson said the closing will hurt the town of about 5,000 people, 90 miles south of Atlanta. The city will lose tax revenue, plus income from water, gas and sewer services it sells to the factory.
The Manchester Development Authority will market the huge building to other manufacturing operations, Wilson said. The county owns the core building, while Newell Rubbermaid owns several additions made over the years.
The mayor said Manchester has attracted about 200 new manufacturing jobs in recent years. The 150-employee Rita Medical Systems Inc., which makes equipment to treat cancer, centralized manufacturing in the town.
About 50 jobs came from another plastics company - albeit an unusual one - in 2001 when Dobco moved to Manchester. The plant makes thermoplastic ``paint'' that is sprayed or extruded onto pavement to make the white and yellow lines on the highway, said Brandy Reed, government contracts administrator.
Newell Rubbermaid will keep open a Goody distribution center that employs 100 in nearby Columbus, Ga.
The decision to close the Goody factory is part of a major restructuring announced last September that will cut 5,000 jobs at Newell Rubbermaid and close one-third of its plants during a three-year period. The company wants to reduce manufacturing overhead, invest in strategic brands and strengthen the product portfolio. The Sandy Springs, Ga.-based consumer products giant expects to save more than $120 million a year.
On Jan. 4, Newell Rubbermaid announced that its Sanford North America operation is closing an injection molding factory in Madison, Wis., and moving it to an Eldon-brand office products plant in Maryville, Tenn. Sanford makes writing instruments, including Sharpie markers and Paper Mate pens.
The company also recently completed the sale of its Newell Cookware Europe business.
Meanwhile, a published report said officials of Rubbermaid Home Products have decided not to sell an injection molding plant in Winfield, Kan. Last summer, the company laid off 200 people at the plant, but most of those have returned to work, according to a story in the Winfield Daily Courier. The company shopped the plant last year, without success, the paper reported.