Ansell closing plant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2002

News Editor

Troy officials want a chance to persuade Pacific-Dunlop not to close the Ansell

manufacturing plant in Troy.

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"We’re not going to accept it until we have an opportunity to change it," Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said on Monday.

Lunsford said Troy officials had not received formal notification from the parent company that it would close the nearly 140-employee synthetic glove manufacturing plant located on Henderson Highway, but that decision apparently has been made. "As it stands today, the decision was made in Australia with absolutely no warning to us," Lunsford said. He understood "that they’d be shutting down by the summer" and utilizing Asian facilities to produce the gloves now manufactured in Troy.

Fred Deitsch, local plant manager, referred inquires to Ansell’s corporate office in New Jersey; no one could be reached for comment.

According to the company web site, a recent review of assets "revealed that Ansell’s manufacturing facility at Troy, Alabama (USA) was not contributing to shareholder value. It has therefore been decided to close the plant."

The Troy facility produces synthetic gloves used for the micro-electronics industry.

"In the mid 1990s, margins for CE gloves were highly attractive and forecast growth in the micro-electronics industry supported the construction of highly specialized CE glove production lines at Troy," the company’s statement reads. " Subsequently, fluctuations in the global microelectronics industry and changes in product specifications have held back growth to levels below those anticipated. Further, the micro-electronics industry has developed a new generation of products requiring ultra-clean gloves, which have exceeded both the design capabilities and the economic viability of the Troy lines."

The release indicated the Troy facility is operating at a loss of $7.7 million annually, and that the company would be better served by moving manufacturing to its Asian facilities "which utilize flexible and lower-cost manufacturing processes."

Lunsford said the announcement caught him, and others, off-guard. "I had a meeting about six months ago with the people from Maryland who run all their operations in the U.S.," he said. "They said (Pacific-Dunlop) was selling off some of its companies, but that Ansell was one company they felt was poised to grow.

"I was just excited about it after that conversation," he said. "Now we’re just trying to talk to the right people and trying to change their minds."