Waterloo Plant Announces It Will Soon Shutdown

AUGUST 9, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:30 P.M. CDT

POCAHONTAS, AR -- For over 3 decades, Waterloo Industries has been a part of Randolph County, serving as home to nearly 500 employees.

"Waterloo Industries has been a very important part of our economy in our community. They've been a great corporate citizen in our community since 1972," says Wayne Gearhart, the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.

But as of Wednesday morning, workers received word that the door to the plant will soon be closing. The international company says the challenging industry conditions and economy forced them to consolidate their manufacturing facilities from three in North America, down to just two.

"We just care about our associates and we believe this is the right thing to do, rather than just close the doors and just walk away. So we will phase this down gradually," says Larry Carlstone, the Vice President of Human Resources for Waterloo Corporate Offices.

Over the next 12 to 15 months, the plant will be closing operations in what they call a gradual phase down, but Waterloo Corporate Officials did say that all employees will receive at least a 60 day notice before their last official day of work.

"We're very sad to see this happen, but obviously we don't know all the information that went into their decision and again our main concerns are the employees and the families that are affected," says Gearhart.

But, the decision has been made and Gearhart says the community has no choice but to move forward.

"We've started this afternoon as I mentioned working with the governor's office and the department of economic development to see what programs might be available and so forth, and we will pursue these aggressively," says Gearhart.

And as for Waterloo in Pocahontas...

"It's just been a great community and we've cherished being here. It's been an incredible relationship and we intend to continue this relationship for the next 12 to 15 months," says Carlstone.

The Randolph County Chamber of Commerce says their main goal now is to recruit another company to move into the facility as quick as possible, creating new employment opportunities.