Armstrong flooring closing; 124 lose jobs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009

All 124 employees of the Armstrong hardwood flooring manufacturing plant on North Washington Street were told Monday they won’t have jobs in 90 days, but managers said the shutdown may not be permanent.

“We aren’t eliminating manufacturing (in Vicksburg) forever, said Beth Riley, vice president of corporate communications. “Hopefully we can restart operations in the short term, but it strictly depends on the return of the markets.”

The layoffs come as another in a series for the local economy, which is following a national trend of manufacturing layoffs centered on housing and automotive industries.

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Riley said the overall economy and declining demand for flooring products in the residential housing market forced Armstrong to lay off employees at three plants across the country, including one in Jackson, where approximately 100 employees will lose their jobs.

Similar layoffs will also occur in plants in Texas and Missouri, said Riley, while a vinyl flooring plant in Montreal is also being temporarily closed. In total, roughly 600 people will lose their jobs, and Riley said there are no plans to offer them work at other plants throughout the country.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have options for them at other plants based on our volume reduction,” she said. “We’ll be working with them to provide on-site assistance with their job search efforts, and obviously they will be eligible for a recall when the time comes.”

Riley said there are 102 hourly and 22 salaried employees at the Vicksburg plant. Armstrong World Industries purchased the Vicksburg plant in 2006 from Capella Wood Floors, which was started by Anderson-Tully Co in 2000.

Anderson-Tully Executive Vice President Richard Wilkerson said this morning the layoffs would not affect ATCO’s operation, as Armstrong was a customer for only a minor value of logs used for veneer.

The Vicksburg flooring plant is one of 16 the Lancaster, Pa., company operates in the United States. It has a dozen plants across the country for ceiling and cabinet manufacturing, as well as nearly 20 plants internationally. Armstrong employs 12,300 people worldwide.

Under federal law, letters must be given to employees of larger firms 90 days before terminations. The Armstrong letters said meetings would be held with all employees to explain unemployment benefits and how their health insurance could be continued.

Earlier closings have occurred at the Simpson DuraVent plant at Ceres, which made residential chimneys and flues, and at Calsonic Kansei and Yoruzu plants, also at Ceres, which were suppliers to the Nissan assembly plant near Canton.


Contact Steve Sanoski at