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JLG buys plant

June 24, 1999|By DON AINES

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - The Little Tikes plant near here that closed March 31 will reopen in 2000 as a JLG Industries factory with as many as 400 new jobs, JLG said Thursday.

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JLG, which builds aerial work platforms, said in a release that it has signed an agreement to purchase the 300,000-square-foot plant on Walnut Bottom Road.

Director of Corporate Relations Juna Rowland would not reveal what JLG paid for the plant and its 40 acres of land but said the total investment will be about $25 million, including equipment for the plant.

Discussing the planned hiring, Rowland said jobs will be "predominantly new."

"We're looking to expand our work force," Rowland said.

She said the plant will be used to produce existing and new models of boom- and scissor-lift products.

The company announcement said the plant will be in full production by early next year.

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"We have a project team evaluating our manufacturing needs in the plant based on our customer needs," Rowland said.

She would not estimate starting wages the company would pay for positions at the plant.

Franklin County Area Development Corp. Executive Director L. Michael Ross said he expects the wages to be competitive with those at Grove Worldwide, Jerr-Dan Corp., Ingersoll-Rand Co. and other major manufacturers in the region.

The JLG announcement follows less optimistic economic news.

Last week, Excelsior Manufacturing Co. at Letterkenny Army Depot closed, eliminating 140 jobs.

"We were very fortunate in that we had a company that was looking to expand its operations," Ross said.

He said JLG sought no state assistance, so he did not know the purchase price of the plant.

Fulton County's largest employer, JLG has about 3,000 workers at plants in McConnellsburg and Bedford, Pa., and has sales and service operations in Europe and Australia.

The figure does not include 800 workers at Gradall Inc. plants in New Philadelphia, Pa., and Orrville, Ohio.

JLG completed the purchase of the manufacturer of telescopic material handlers and excavators on Monday for $206 million, or $20 a share.

"We have identified our capacity expansion needs and this facility affords an additional 30 percent of space, not including the Gradall facilities," JLG Chairman and President L. David Black said in the release.

The release said the plant provides easy access to Interstate 81.

Rowland said the purchase of the Little Tikes plant was unrelated to the acquisition of Gradall.

JLG recorded sales of $530 million in its 1998 budget year. Through the first nine months of the current budget year, which ends July 31, company sales were $463 million.

"We're certainly looking at another record year," Rowland said.

Although the Little Tikes plant was situated outside Shippensburg in Cumberland County, Pa., about 70 percent of its work force lived in Franklin County, Ross said.

The plant, which had been in operation for seven years, closed because of excess production capacity, a Little Tikes spokesman said at the time.

The plant made car-shaped beds, climbing sets and other molded plastic toys.

As of Tuesday, more than half of the 300 Little Tikes employees who lost their jobs when the plant closed had found new jobs or were in job training, Ross said.

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