Community support plays role in comeback

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Features Editor

If the king had depended on community spirit and cooperation, instead of his men and horses, Humpty Dumpty might have been put together again.

After fire destroyed its manufacturing and assembly plant, Dec. 19, 2000, Carter Brothers Manufacturing Company of Brundidge took advantage of the opportunities available to them through their extended community and the go-cart company will soon be back in full operation and in a bigger and better way.

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Company President Stuart Arn said Carter Brothers has had great successes and some devastating setbacks.

"After a tornado completely destroyed our facility in March 1989, the Pike County community and the state stood behind our business," Arn said. "Since the fire six months ago, the community has proven itself once again. The support of the community has

made it possible for us to come back bigger, better and more technologically advanced."

Arn said thanks to the hard work of many individuals in the area, Carter Brothers will be back in full operation in time to meet their fall orders.

"If we had not been able to get back into full operation relatively fast, we would not have been able to fill the orders during our busiest time of year," Arn said. "On behalf of the Carter and Arn families, we would like to thank the Brundidge Industrial Development Board, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, South Alabama Electric Cooperative, South Central Alabama Development Commission Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and SouthTrust Bank of Troy and Montgomery for their help which has enabled us to rebuild our facility and continue to provide employment for our trusted employees in the greater Pike County area."

Jim Caldwell, Carter Brothers vice president of operations, said a low-interest bond issue and zero-interest loans secured through the Brundidge Industrial Development Board and South Alabama Electric Cooperative as well as a loan from the South Central Alabama Development Commission made it possible for Carter Brothers to rebuild.

"Because of their support in securing loans and SouthTrust Bank’s willingness to provide financial assistance to Carter Brothers, we were able to keep the business here in Pike County," Caldwell said. "We appreciate the way the community came together to support our company and those who depend on it for their livelihood."

Carter Brothers had been planning to expand its facility when the fire brought destruction and doubt.

However, before the smoke had cleared, the Carter and Arn families had reassured their employees and the community that they would be back.

And back they will be – at triple the size of the post-tornado facility.

Caldwell said the total facility will be in excess of 200,000 square feet, making Carter Brothers the largest cart manufacturing facility in the United States.

The plant’s potential unit capacity will be increased from 25,000 to 30,000 units a year to between 60,000 and 75,000.

"And, that’s on one shift," Caldwell said. "If we run a second shift, we could double that number, so we have great potential for growth. Last year at peak season, we had 150 full-time employees. With the expansion, that number is expected to grow upwards of 250."

Immediately after the December 2000 fire, Carter Brothers was down, but not for long. Within 30 days, the plant was back in limited production. A temporary limited- production plant was set up in a warehouse across the street from the fire-gutted facility and orders have been filled from that facility.

New equipment is being installed in the new plant with a target date of August set for full production, bringing new jobs and greater opportunities from the ashes.

When the community gets behind a company that has been "broken," the ball just seems to bounce the right way and the company bounces back right along with it.

"We owe so much to the Pike County community," Arn said. "We hope to continue to provide jobs to the people of our community and to play an role in its economy for many years to come."