Jonesboro Office Furniture Manufacturer to Close

by Mark Friedman  on Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2004 12:08 pm  

A pair of manufacturers had good news and bad news for Arkansas workers this week.

First, the bad news. Haworth Jonesboro Systems Products said Tuesday that it will shut down by the end of the year, leaving 230 people unemployed.

Haworth, which makes office furniture for Haworth Inc. of Holland, Mich., blames the closure on dropping sales. Revenue for the company fell more than 40 percent between 2000 and 2003, from $2.1 billion to $1.2 billion, said Dave Field, Jonesboro's plant manager.

"All the top players in the furniture [industry] have been plagued by excess capacity and shrinking market," Field said.

The plant, which opened in July 1998 and had 600 employees at one time, started seeing orders evaporate in March 2001, he said.

Field said the company had hoped for a recovery, but it never came.

"The market doesn't seem to be growing," Field said.

Earlier this year, Haworth Inc. closed its plant in Lincolnton, N.C. It also has announced it will close its factory in Henderson, Texas, and a distribution center in Hazelton, Penn.

Craighead County's unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in May, down from 5 percent in April. The county's rate was lower that the state average of 5.8 percent.

Alcoa Takes Springdale Plant Off Sale Block

Now, the good news. Alcoa said last week that it was no longer trying to sell its Springdale plant, part of its Kawneer North America division. The plant has more than 500 employees.

Alcoa said in a news release that it was merging the Kawneer division with its European Buidling and Construction division to create Alcoa Building and Construction. The new division will be based in Geneva, Switzerland.

"From a financial reporting standpoint, the Kawneer business will no longer be included in assets held for sale as of the second quarter of 2004," the company said.

Alcoa announced in January 2003 that it would cut its nationwide workforce and close four plants in Arkansas: Springdale, Russellville, Buaxite and Magnolia. The Russellville plant, which has been for sale since November 2002, sold in March to Jw Aluminum.

Alcoa is an aluminum and aluminum components producer.



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