Two rotational molders have launched rotomolding plant consolidations kayak and canoe molder Johnson Outdoors Inc. and playground equipment maker PlayPower Inc.
Both companies are among the top 20 largest rotomolders in North America, according to the new Plastics News ranking.
Johnson Outdoors is tied for 14th place, with an estimated $35 million in rotomolding sales. PlayPower, with an estimated $30 million in rotomolding-related sales, is tied for 17th place.
Here are details about each company's consolidation:
In a move to improve the profitability in its watercraft business unit, Johnson Outdoors of Racine, Wis., will close its factory in Ferndale, Wash., by the end of September and will consolidate production into an expanded plant in Old Town, Maine. About 90 people will be laid off in Ferndale.
Old Town is the center of canoe and kayak manufacturing for Johnson Outdoors. The company currently maintains two production sites in Old Town, but will transfer all operations into one location after conversion of its modern distribution and warehouse center is finished later this year.
Johnson Outdoors' plastics operations in Old Town include thermoforming to make canoes and rotomolding of canoes and kayaks.
The consolidation will create 48 jobs. Johnson Outdoors said the plant consolidation should save more than $4 million a year.
The recreational products company is publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., but about 78 percent of its shares are held by members of the family that owns S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. including Helen Johnson-Leipold, chair and CEO.
Johnson Outdoors makes several brands of kayaks and canoes, including Old Town, Ocean Kayak, Dimension and Necky.
Officials at Johnson Outdoors' headquarters did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
PlayPower of Huntersville, N.C., and its Miracle Recreation Equipment Co. subsidiary make commercial playgrounds for city parks, schools, restaurants and day-care facilities that combine rotomolded parts, such as sliding boards, with metal and wood components.
PlayPower had two playground factories in Missouri, both of them doing rotomolding. The consolidation leaves a single rotomolding plant and necessitates a history lesson.
In 2004, PlayPower bought the Little Tikes Commercial Play Systems business in Farmington, Mo., near St. Louis, from Newell Rubbermaid Inc. of Atlanta. Miracle Recreation Equipment already had a rotomolding operation in Monett, 250 miles away in southwestern Missouri.
The Farmington Daily Journal reported in January of this year that PlayPower was consolidating the Farmington operation into Monett. More than 50 employees were laid off in Farmington, the newspaper said. The newspaper also reported that Monett would employ about 200. PlayPower officials did not return calls for this story.
Commercial playgrounds have a long history in Farmington, beginning with Iron Mountain Forge, which started in 1979 and expanded into rotomolding in 1990. Rubbermaid in 1993 bought Iron Mountain Forge, renaming it Little Tikes Commercial Play Systems.
The Farmington plant bounced back from a major fire in 1998 that damaged about one-third of the building, but spared its rotomolding machines.
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