A Chattanooga manufacturing plant that traces its roots back 75 years is shutting down.
The Cannon Equipment factory on Riverside Drive, which for many years was known as Cumberland Corp. and is a maker of material handling equipment, is closing in early August with 71 people losing their jobs, according to the company.
In the mid-1990s, the plant had up to 250 employees.
"It kind of was a surprise that it is closing down," said Tim Spires, who heads the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association. "It's still tough out there."
The Minnesota-based company said in a statement that the Chattanooga plant is shutting down as part of a restructuring. Cannon, which is part of IMI plc based in Great Britain, said it will focus its carts and machinery business in Minnesota.
Cannon, in a letter to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the plant will close by Aug. 3. It said a small number of employees will be retained though the end of October and one will work through Dec. 31.
J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, said officials hate to hear of closures, especially a company that has had a long tradition in Chattanooga. Marston said the Chamber plans to work with the owners of the site to try to redevelop the property "with 21st century jobs."
According to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property, the 17.7-acre tract is appraised at $4.35 million.
The facility has about 300,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space that stretches back to 1947, Assessor of Property figures show.
Cannon Equipment has its roots in American Manufacturing, which was founded here in 1898 by James B. Robinson, newspaper archives show. His son, W.W. Robinson, set up Cumberland Case Corp. in 1937. It moved to the Riverside Drive plant site in 1947.
IMI bought the company in 1988. The current name was adopted in the early 1990s when it was Cannon Equipment Southeast.
Cannon makes custom material handling carts, cages, racks, front-end merchandising fixtures and displays. It also produces dairy automation and newspaper automation equipment.