Propex downsizing

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Propex’s Bainbridge plant announced Tuesday that it will begin downsizing its workforce of 210 employees.

“This decision has come as a result of continued decline in the residential housing and commercial markets and the fact that the major carpet manufacturers continue to utilize backward integration in the manufacture of carpet backing,” Linda Wofford, director of human resources for the company, said in a news release.

“These actions are being taken to better align Propex’s production needs with the addressable space in the market and to adapt to the structural change in the industry and segments we serve,” Wofford said.

Decatur County Industrial Development Executive Director Rick McCaskill said Propex is trying to realign its operations so that it will remain open and have those who remain employed to work 40-hour weeks. As it is now, most of the employees don’t work a full shift, he said.

Propex joins other local companies that have either ceased operations, such as American Fibers and Yarns; or cut back on its operations, such as TRACO. All three companies blame the economic downturn, and in particular the slump of the construction industry, as the reasons for the layoffs.

According to Ginger Jones, human resources manager of the Bainbridge plant, which manufactures carpet backing, was established in 1972.

Propex leases a portion of the old American Fibers and Yarns plant that was not leased recently by Meredian, McCaskill said.

Jones said workers will be fully aware of this decision by the time they head home from work on Tuesday.

Wofford said, “This becomes effective today, and will continue for the next three months in intervals.”

Wofford declined to say how many employees will be effected during each interval.

In order to help with the transition period, Jones said they are working with Bainbridge College to help employees laid off obtain an education. Also, other benefits will be available through the company.

“It’s just terrible,” said Jones, “but we’re going to deal with it.”

Propex Operating Company, LLC is based in Chattanooga, Tenn. According to its Web site, the company is the world’s largest producer of geosynthetic, concrete, furnishing and industrial fabrics and fiber.

Along with Bainbridge, the company has manufacturing facilities in Hazlehurst, Nashville and Ringgold, all in Georgia, and one in Chattanooga, Tenn.