JLG considering Little Tykes plant

May 27, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

McConnellsburg, Pa. - JLG industries is on a roll.

Earlier this month, the aerial work platform maker announced it was buying Gradall Industries, manufacturers of telescopic construction equipment, and just this week, JLG managers announced the highest earnings in the company's 30-year history. Now the company's success is sending it shopping for more production space.

On Thursday, JLG spokeswoman Juna Rowland said the company has its eye on the Little Tykes toy plant in Shippensburg, Pa., which ceased production in March.

"We're bumping up against capacity in our current buildings. We need more manufacturing space," Rowland said. "We've been having terrific expansion."


She said the 300,000-square-foot Little Tykes plant, which sits on 40 acres of land, is one of several properties JLG has been considering in the area. JLG's main plant is in Ayr Township adjacent to McConnellsburg. It also has a manufacturing plant that makes scissor lifts in nearby Bedford County. JLG has about 3,000 employees, most of whom work in the main plant.

Rowland said she didn't know how many, if any, new jobs will be added if the company expands to a new manufacturing facility.

With its Gradall acquisition, JLG will become an $800 million company, $200 million short of Chief Executive Officer L. David Black's stated goal of taking the corporation to the $1 billion level.

L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said Thursday that 40 percent of the 300 Little Tykes employees have found other jobs or are in job-training programs. Though the Little Tykes plant is in Cumberland County, more than 70 percent of its workforce lived in Franklin County, Ross said.

The Little Tykes plant was built in 1991 at a cost of about $10 million, Ross said. An addition was added about three years later. He said he didn't how much Newell Rubbermaid, Little Tykes' owner, is asking for the plant.

Newell, whose products include Levolor blinds and Mirro cookware, and Rubbermaid merged in March. Little Tykes' closure had nothing to do with the merger, Scott Silver, vice president of human resources for the toy plant, said at the time the shutdown was announced.

The plant was built with government help, including a $2 million Sunny Day loan, a $2 million loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, a $1.9 million in state grants.

The government largesse was offered in return for a guarantee of 224 jobs over three years. Little Tykes met all of its obligations and paid back all of the loans before the plant closed, Jeff MacLaughlin, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said in early April.

Ross said the plant lends itself to a manufacturing operation.

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