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SUMMITVILLE Tile company plans to transfer some work



Published: Tue, September 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A renovation of the tile plant in Summitville is being planned.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

SUMMITVILLE -- Summitville Tile intends to move some tile production from its Summitville plant to its plant near Minerva.

The move will eliminate 22 positions at the Summitville plant, but some of those workers could be placed in other divisions of the company that are expanding, said David Johnson, company president and chief executive.

Combining the production of quarry tile, which is a type of unglazed ceramic tile, at one plant will make the company more efficient and will prepare the Summitville plant for renovation, he said.

Company officials are in the preliminary stages of planning the upgrade so he couldn't provide any details. He said, however, that moving some tile work would free up space in the plant.

Steps planned

The transfer of work is the first in a series of steps the company is planning to streamline and modernize operations, he said.

The Summitville plant will continue to produce glazed ceramic tile. Production of that tile remains strong, and the company is considering adding a third shift, Johnson said.

The transfer of quarry tile production will put all the company's production of that tile at the plant in Pekin, which is in Carroll County just outside Minerva. It is to be completed in six to eight weeks.

Johnson would not break down how many people work at each plant, but he said the company has 450 employees overall. It also makes mortars, grouts and other products near Minerva and operates 11 distribution centers.

Position on imports

Johnson said the 90-year-old company is in the same position as the U.S. steel industry in battling low-priced foreign imports.

He said he has been disappointed at the lack of action by the U.S. government to protect the domestic tile industry from dumping, which is selling products at less than the cost of producing them.

Many tile companies have gone out of business. The Tile Council of America, which was formed after World War II, once had more than 40 members, but Summitville is the last member, Johnson added.

Summitville is the only family-owned company among major tile producers, he continued.

Johnson said it has been able to survive because it has been able to adapt to the demands of the market, developing innovative products and building strong relationships with customers.

shilling@vindy.com




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