Gates Rubber to shutter Jefferson facility
by Adam Orr
"I can confirm that we've made the difficult decision to close the Ashe County facility," Reeve said Friday. "The transition will begin in the middle of September and will be finished by the early part of 2014."
Reeves said the closure would affect the entire facility, which currently employees 247 people on three shifts.
"A community never wants to receive this kind of news for their citizens," Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell said Friday. "Gates has been an important part of our industrial economy for many years."
Mitchell said the company indicated the move was not a reflection on the county's workforce or its skills.
"This does have a direct reflection on the very competitive nature of a manufacturing environment and where a company needs to locate for their corporate model, and apparently the company has made this choice," Mitchell said. "If there is anything that we are able to do to affect this decision, we -- as a community working together -- will certainly attempt to do so."
Operations will be shifted to other Gate's facilities including Siloam Springs, Ark., "to more effectively utilize our manufacturing footprint," Reeve said.
Employee notifications began Thursday with third-shift operations, according to Reeve, and will continued through Friday.
"All employees at the facility will be notified by today (Friday)," Reeve said.
Reeve confirmed the company has created a transition plan for employees at the Ashe County facility, but did not elaborate on plan specifics when asked.
The Ashe Mountain Times attempted to reach additional Gates officials at corporate headquarters in Denver, Colo., and at the Jefferson facility, including Plant Manager Dan Harrington, but calls for comment were not immediately returned.
On July 11, 2012, Gates announced a shutdown of operations at the temporary plant located adjacent to the main facility in the former Leviton building, affecting 83 employees.
Gates had maintained operations in the building, which also once housed Hanes Apparel and Leviton offices, since April 30, 2011, when a tornado destroyed the company's Glade Spring, Va., plant necessitating the temporary relocation.