Chattanooga-based Propex closes Georgia plant

Chattanooga-based Propex closes Georgia plant

June 7th, 2013 by Ellis Smith in Local - Breaking News

Propex Inc. is a carpet backing company based in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Propex will shutter its 1 million-square-foot Nashville, Ga., plant over the next six months, transferring operations to the company's existing Hazlehurst, Ga., facililty, the company announced today.

The move will cost 180 jobs in Nashville, Ga., which is located in South Georgia near Valdosta, Ga. Propex will add 145 jobs at its Hazlehurst, Ga., plant to consolidate production there, and could eventually add more as it brings its Isis modular polyester carpet backing to market.

Propex was forced to close the woven geotextile plant because of U.S. defense cuts, the elimination of stimulus dollars and the industry's shift to non-woven products, said Mike Gorey, president of Propex.

"We've been running this plant at a very low level of capacity, we've tried everything to maintain that," Gorey said. "But the government spending on our defense products, which was a big part of our production . . . is zero."

Propex, which had 2.4 million square feet of woven production capacity before the move and struggled to fill the space amid a general malaise in the economy, will now be close to full at its 1.4 million-square-foot Hazlehurst plant when the move is complete, Gorey said.

"These footprints were built for carpet backing, so the scale is enormous, they're much larger than the infrastructure business can support," Gorey said.

The company also cut 10 sales positions at its headquarters office. Gorey said he expects that there will be no further restructuring in the course of the company's transition from a carpet-backing giant into a more diversified producer of infrastructure products.