published Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Duracell growth to create 60 Cleveland jobs

Batteries are run down a small conveyor belt before packaging at the P&G Duracell packaging center in Cleveland, Tenn. Duracell is celebrated 50 years of manufacturing batteries at their Cleveland plant, where C- and D-cell batteries are produced.
Batteries are run down a small conveyor belt before packaging at the P&G Duracell packaging center in Cleveland, Tenn. Duracell is celebrated 50 years of manufacturing batteries at their Cleveland plant, where C- and D-cell batteries are produced.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

DURACELL

Locations: Cleveland, Tenn.; LaGrange, Ga.; Lancaster, S.C.

Tennessee employees: 410 full-time, 150 temporary

Tennessee plants: One C and D battery production plant and one distribution facility in Cleveland that packages batteries from all Duracell plants

Expansion plans: $36 million in Cleveland and 60 new workers

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No matter the language on Duracell's packaging, a C or D battery anywhere in the world can trace its roots back to Cleveland, Tenn.

P&G announced Wednesday that Duracell's Cleveland plant is now the sole producer of the big batteries that power the world's flashlights, cameras and radios.

To charge up its largest battery factory, the company will spend $36 million to expand the plant and add 60 jobs in Bradley County, said plant manager Bill Barkley.

"We are becoming the global producer for C and D Duracell batteries," Barkley said.

Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, thanked Duracell for "reaffirming its commitment" to Bradley County.

"Expansion decisions are only made after careful and thoughtful consideration, and this announcement shows a tremendous vote of confidence in the area's quality workforce and the state's favorable business climate," Hagerty said in a statement.

P&G chose to expand its Cleveland facility because of the easy access to transportation, the "culture and technical capability of the people," and "other economic factors" in the state, the plant's manager said.

"It is because of our people and the work they do every day that allows P&G Duracell to power the lives of more customers in more parts of the world more completely," Barkley said.

After the addition of 60 new jobs, the plant will employ 410 full-time workers and 150 temporary workers, he said.

Though the Cleveland factory and distribution plant are several miles apart, Barkley considers the employees "one facility, one team," and noted that workers "are just extremely excited because it's continued recognition of the contribution they're making to the company."

The battery plant itself was built in 1961 by the P.R. Mallory Co., and adopted the Duracell brand in 1964. Today, it's one of P&G's 80 worldwide brands.

Selling batteries to China and other world markets has required the company to keep costs low, according to Terence Moore, director of Global Product Supply at Procter & Gamble.

"[Employees] embrace that as part of our culture," Moore said in a 2011 interview. "Keeping good talent, good logistics and good quality power are all key pieces that will help us be competitive."

Local officials praised the announcement, calling the decision a testament to the quality of the local workforce.

"I think it's great that the world's most trusted battery is trusting Bradley County to be a partner as we continue to expand and grow together," said D. Gary Davis, mayor of Bradley County.

The expansion is projected to also add $500,000 in new tax revenue to city and county coffers.

TIMELINE

1961 -- Cleveland, Tenn., plant built for P.R. Mallory and Co.

1964 -- Mallory introduces Duracell brand batteries

1979 -- Dart Industries buys Mallory and changes the company's name to Duracell

1980 -- Duracell builds a testing and packing plant in Cleveland

1985 -- Duracell moves to manufacture C and D batteries at its Mouse Creek facility in Cleveland

1991 -- Copper Top Lane warehouse opened

1996 -- Duracell bought by Gillette

1998 -- Company opens a Cleveland distribution facility

2005 -- Gillette purchased by Procter & Gamble, with Duracell spun off into own division

2011 -- Cleveland facility celebrates 50 years of battery production

2012 -- P&G makes Cleveland sole worldwide producer of C and D batteries, announces $36 million expansion and 60 new jobs

Source: Duracell

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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