Carlisle Tire & Wheel plant to close
The Carlisle Tire & Wheel plant on North College Street will close within 12 to 15 months, employees were told this morning. Jason Malmont/The Sentinel

The Carlisle Tire & Wheel plant on North College Street will close within 12 to 15 months, employees were told this morning.

The closure, which affects about 340 employees, will be phased over that time, said Fred Sutter, group president of CTW.

He added while federal law mandates a 60-day notice on plant closures, the company wanted to give employees as much time as possible “to help them plan a transition.” About 20 percent of plant workers are salaried while 80 percent are hourly.

CTW will continue to operate its 260,000-square-foot distribution facility on the Ritner Highway, which employs about 67 people. In addition, Carlisle’s largest division, Carlisle Construction Materials, which employs about 475 people, will continue to be headquartered in Carlisle.

Carlisle Companies Inc. announced today its CTW business will consolidate its Carlisle plant with the former Bowdon, Ga. manufacturing plant and portions of its Chinese operations into a newly acquired 568,000 square-foot facility in Jackson, Tenn.

The parent company explained how the November 2008 fire loss of the Bowdon plant prompted the establishment of a temporary manufacturing plant in a leased facility in nearby Heflin, Ala. and a nationwide search for a new location in which to relocate or rebuild the operation.

Sutter explained how the Jackson facility affords CTW an ideal location, more centralized to its markets with excellent expansion opportunities. “This strategic move will strengthen CTW’s competitive advantage, improve our workflow and help us to maximize the benefit of the Carlisle Operating System,” Sutter said.

The system is a standardized manufacturing structure that allows the company and its holdings to improve profitability and shareholder value, Sutter said.

“Carlisle Companies Inc. has been deeply entrenched in the community of Carlisle since the company began in 1917, deriving our name from the town,” Sutter said. “Though one of the CTW facilities will be relocating, we continue to be committed to the Carlisle community and the excellent relationship we have had with them.”

The transition of the CTW manufacturing facilities from Carlisle, Helfin and China to Jackson will take place over the next 18 months, Sutter said. He explained, for staying with CTW up through closing, Carlisle area workers will be offered an incentive based on their number of years of service.

“We have a very well trained and experienced workforce in Carlisle,” Sutter said. To retain that talent as much as possible, CTW will be offering Carlisle area workers a relocation package to transfer to the Jackson plant.

Those wishing not to transfer will be offered outplacement services to help them find a new job and brush up on such skills as resume writing and job interviews, Sutter said. “We will work with local employers to try and connect them to opportunities.”

He added CTW has already notified state agencies on the potential need for services.

Sutter said the poor economy did play a role in accelerating the decision to consolidate. Driving factors included land and building costs, energy and utility rates, freight costs for CTW and customers and locating production closer to its customers including the buyers of agricultural tires, Sutter said.

He added product lines currently manufactured in Carlisle — specialty tires for outdoor equipment — will be transferred to the Jackson plant.

Hundreds of employees gathered at the Carlisle Expo Center this morning for the announcement. A Sentinel reporter at the scene was denied entry by a company representative. None of the workers approached after the meeting wanted to comment.

Carlisle Tire & Wheel has employed between 600 and 800 people in recent years, although layoffs have reduced that number over the past year.

Carlisle Tire & Wheel Company is a division of Carlisle Companies, Inc. The company was founded in 1917 when Charles S. Moomy opened Carlisle Tire and Rubber Co. in Carlisle.

According to the company profile, Moomy’s main operation was the production of inner tubes that were sold to Montgomery Ward and Company. There were just 30 employees working 10-hour days at the plant and they expanded into the production of automobile inner tubes.

The company floundered during the stock market crash of 1929, and by the end of the 1930s, Moomy had turned over all of his common and preferred stock to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to avoid bankruptcy.

The company was purchased in 1943 by Pharis Tire and Rubber Company for $330,000, but after significant losses, the board of directors liquidated the company in 1949, distributing stock to the Pharis stockholders and renamed Carlisle Corporation.

During the 1950s and ’60s Carlisle acquired a variety of other companies, including roofing materials, insulated wire and baby food jar sealant rings.

By the end of the 1960s, Carlisle was producing aerospace and electronic products, recreational tires, automotive accessories and brake linings as well as other divergent products.

Sales last year were about $290 million, according to the company Web site.

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