One of Albany's oldest plants to close - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

One of Albany's oldest plants to close

January 5, 2004

Albany-- Foreign competition was too much for the old plant, and Flint River Textiles will close in March, putting 230 people out of a job.

The first day of business in the New Year was a bitter one for these employees. Tyrone Hall, who has worked at Flint River Textile for four years said "No one like to lose their job."

The Flint River Textile plant opened on Eleventh Avenue in 1909. The current owners bought the plant in 1916, and have been in continuous operation since. They make fabric for furniture upholstery.

Dora Hayes said "Most of the job market, especially textile workers, is going overseas. They can get their labor cheaper over there."

But President Philip McArdle says competition from cheap Asian textiles was too much. The company sales declined forty percent in the last three years, and the firm lost money each year.

Solomon Loud, who has worked there 18 years, said "Our performance was very well. But I think it was very hard to compete with the lower wages overseas."

Does that make you mad? "Yea. I wish we could buy more American and we could provide for our families as well as the overseas manufacturers."

The plant has cut back employee hours in the last months, so many said it was not a shock. Some said it was. Cornelius Jones said "Yea, it was very emotional in there. It was very emotional."

Hall said "You kind of seen heads dropping. People getting discouraged."

Thirty-five-year employee Phillip Harp is unsure about his future" Right now, I just don't know."

Jimmy Varner said "I have no idea." McArdle said the owners want the plant to close honorably, so they will not declare bankruptcy. They will pay all employees for the sixty days before they close, and pay off all suppliers.

Then after 88 years, Flint River Textiles will shut down. Flint River Textile has a yearly payroll of six million dollars.

This closing continues a trend that has devastated the American textile industry, and particularly hurt the South. According to the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, the textile crisis began in 1997.

Since then, more than 250 plants have closed around the country. 200,000 workers have lost their jobs. In Georgia, about 35,000 people still work in the textile industry. But that's down 40% in the last six years.

posted at 5:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com