Rotational molder Step2 Co. LLC is closing its factory in Fort Valley, Ga., which employs 104, the company announced Jan. 5.
Step2 opened the 109,250-square-foot plant in 2000 to serve the southeastern United States and to supply customers in Latin America. But now the tough economy has taken its toll. Effective immediately, Step2 will shift the work done in Georgia to its two remaining factories in Ohio, the headquarters in Streetsboro, and a plant in Perrysville.
Step2 makes toys and lawn and garden products.
Faced with the challenging retail environment, our focus on efficiency, lean manufacturing and productivity has led us to make the difficult decision to close the Fort Valley facility and fold those operations into our Ohio manufacturing plants, said Scott Levin, Step2 president and CEO.
Step2 notified the Fort Valley employees before announcing the closing. Laid-off workers will get severance pay, based on the number of years they worked at the plant. They also will keep their benefits for the next 60 days, under the Worker Adjustment and Retaining Notification Act.
The decision is not a reflection on the work or dedication of our employees; they have done their jobs well, Levin said. He thanked the city of Fort Valley and Peach County for supporting the operation. Step2 officials are contacting local government officials to discuss the announcement.
Levin said the cutback will help Step2 over the long term. We believe in the quality and desirability of our products and are confident that these hard decisions will best position us for continued success in the months and years ahead, he said.
In 2005, Step2 closed a plant in Bakersfield, Calif. The following year, Liberty Partners LP of New York, bought Step2. Under Liberty Partners, Step2 has acquired two companies that make toys for infants and preschoolers, Thinkativity Inc. and Infantino LLC.
According to Plastics News' data, Step2 is the largest rotomolder in North America, with estimated sales of $150 million. That sales number included the Georgia factory.
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