Local News

August 17, 2011

Layoffs at Shaw plants in Eton, Ringgold

Dalton-based Shaw Industries is trimming its work force at plants in Eton and Ringgold. Company officials declined to say how many workers are being affected.

"Shaw continues to align and consolidate its manufacturing resources in response to market demand," Al Scruggs, Shaw director of human resources, said in a statement. "We have made some recent reductions in Ringgold and Eton. We anticipate having positions available at other Shaw facilities for those who are interested in staying with the company."

Due to the slumping economy and changing customer preferences, Shaw has shed almost 7,000 employees during the past five years. Employment was at a near-record high in 2006 when the company had 31,469 workers. But as the housing market began to slow in 2007, that number dropped to 30,874. In 2009 after several plant closures, the company had 25,492 employees. Last year, the number of Shaw workers fell to 24,552.

Earlier this year, Shaw officials said the company was closing a spun yarn plant in Chatsworth, affecting about 306 workers. Company officials hoped to find most of those employees other jobs within Shaw.

Shaw Industries, the world’s largest manufacturer of tufted broadloom carpet, is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, which no longer releases detailed financial performance results for Shaw. Berkshire Hathaway in its second quarter financial report said pre-tax earnings of several manufacturing businesses combined to increase 24 percent during the first six months of 2011 compared to the same period last year. The earnings jump was attributed to increases in three businesses but was “partially offset by lower earnings at Shaw.”

The report stated those businesses are facing higher raw material costs this year.

“In 2011, many of our manufacturers experienced higher commodity costs of certain raw materials (including cotton, steel and petrochemicals) as well as higher energy costs,” the report stated. “As a result of these higher costs, we have increased selling prices for certain products. To the extent that costs continue to stay at current elevated levels or increase, further selling price actions may be necessary.”

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