The Georgia Department of Labor announced that Faltec America, Inc. is anticipating the elimination of 46 positions at its Adairsville facility next month, a number which was later confirmed to The Daily Tribune News by representatives of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development (CBCDOED.)
“As I understand it, this is their mats division,” said CBCDOED Executive Director Melinda Lemmon. “They are doing textile work up until June related to automotive mats for certain [original equipment manufacturers.] That is the area that is impacted.”
Faltec America, Inc. is a subsidiary of Kangawa, Japan-based Faltec Co. Ltd. As of last year, the company had an estimated 2,530 consolidated employees, with two manufacturing facilities in the United States.
Globally, the company produces plastic exteriors, moldings, textiles, chemicals, metal products and electronic automobile components. In addition to its U.S. plants, Faltec also has manufacturing operations in China, Japan, Thailand and The United Kingdom.
The automobile parts manufacturer subsidiary was established as a foreign profit corporation in Adairsville in 2010.
According to financial estimates from MarketWatch, Faltec Co. Ltd. generated about 87.54 billion yen in revenue last year — a sum tantamount to about $785 million in U.S. currency.
Lemmon noted that the local plant underwent an expansion in 2018.
“Their expansion is related to the other aspect of their automotive business,” she said. “It’s a unique technology that allows the auto-braking system to work effectively and meet the new federal requirements on automobiles — their system allows branding to go on the front, without refracting the light that’s required by the braking system to detect the cars in front of you.”
The downsizing of the plant’s mats division, she said, will allow the entire facility at 500B Soho Drive to focus on the manufacturing of that particular automobile component, which is technically referred to as a millimeter-wave radar cover.
Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson said the plant has gone through previous expansion phases, but he couldn’t give any details on specific agreements and memorandums of understandings between the manufacturer and the County.
Bartow Superior Court documents, however, indicate the Authority approved a “maximum aggregate principal amount” of $33 million in taxable revenue bonds to facilitate project expansion at Faltec’s Adairsville plant in 2017.
“We’re aware of their strengths and certainly, they’re changing and evolving into this new area. So we’re still going to be partners, we’re just going to have to figure out the new definition of that partnership and help the company be successful as much as we possibly can,” she said. “Our companies, it appears to us, seem smart about the way that they are growing and are conservative in the methods in which they are growing. So hopefully, that strategy by the corporate leadership will continue to pay off for our community where we have growth, but it’s stable growth.”
Nor does Olson believe Faltec’s layoff announcement represents the beginning of a downturn in the local manufacturing sector — especially in a national economy that saw its gross domestic product increase 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019.
"Unemployment is still real low and mostly what we hear from employers is they are begging to get workers,” he said. "There may be occasional hiccups with certain companies with their suppliers, just individualized problems, so I don’t know if that’s the issue with Faltec. Every company once in a while has management issues or supplier issues or just loses business. But I don’t see that as the beginning of anything, no indication yet that things are starting to slow down countywide.”
In the interim, Lemmon said the local economic department has reached out to Faltec about assisting in the “transitioning” of its laid-off employees.
“That’s not necessarily our direct area of expertise — the Department of Labor and others are working with the dislocated workers. But if there’s a chance to improve their skillsets, transfer them over and connect them with other employers in the area, that’s what we’re exploring right now with the experts who do get on the individual level,” she said. “I can assure you there are eight or 10 companies lined up that are ready to interview those 46 workers, as well as others, of course, that are in the labor market.”