180 locals lose jobs as Shaw cuts 270 people

180 locals lose jobs as Shaw cuts 270 people

August 24th, 2011 by Andy Johns in Business Around the Region

Shaw Industries officials said Monday that as many as 180 employees could be looking for new jobs in Northwest Georgia.

In addition, the company is cutting 90 jobs at a plant in South Georgia.

Last week, the floor-covering giant announced there would be reductions at plants in Ringgold and Eton.

On Tuesday, company spokeswoman Susan Rich said 30 workers will be laid off in Ringgold and 150 or more will be let go in Eton. The company expects to be able to hire back all employees who want to stay with the company at other Shaw facilities, she said.

She said the company still employs 1,600 people in Murray County and 1,200 in Catoosa County.

Personnel manager Al Scruggs said layoffs occurred at the rug plant right off the interstate in Ringgold and at the Eton plant, which was a tufting and yarn processing plant.

Ninety jobs will be lost with the elimination of a production shift at the Fitzgerald, Ga., plant between Macon and Valdosta.

"As we make changes that require us to reduce work schedules or eliminate shifts, Shaw works diligently to identify other positions within the company for impacted associates," Scruggs said in the statement. "In regards to the most recent adjustments in Ringgold and Eton, we have opportunities in other plants for those that desire to remain with the company."

According to the release, machinery from one local facility was relocated to other Shaw plants and crew assignments were readjusted at the other plant. Neither Scruggs nor company spokeswoman Susan Rich would say which action took place at which plant.

The company said shifting demand accounts for the changes because in a recession buyers gravitate towards cheaper products.

"The residential flooring market is still very soft," said Kemp Harr, editor at Floor Focus magazine.

He said slow summer sales compared to good spring and fall figures means customers are shopping for sales in the transition seasons rather than buying newly introduced products in the summer and winter.

"They're waiting for the sales before they go out and buy," he said.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the parent company of Shaw, reported that earnings from Shaw and other housing-related manufacturers fell in the second quarter.

In December 2009, Catoosa County commissioners agreed to delay taxes and guarantee a sewer project to keep the Shaw plant in Ringgold. But Tuesday, Commissioner Dewayne Hill said the rug plant was not involved.

Either way, he said, the changes can't help the local economy.

"Anytime you've got jobs that are lost, people laid off, it's going to put a hurt on the county," Hill said.