Manufacturer to create 150 jobs in Winnsboro

Three years after Mack Trucks closed its massive Winnsboro plant, Fairfield County has found a new manufacturer to take the space, but with far fewer jobs.Guardian Industries plans to move into the former Mack Trucks plant in Winnsboro to employ 150 people making fiberglass insulation.

Mack Trucks had employed a peak of 1,300 people there.

“It’s not as many jobs as Mack, but it’s a stable company, and it diversifies the industry in the county. A lot of our industry is automotive-related,” said David Brown, a member of Fairfield County Council.

Pay is expected to average more than $12 per hour. That is less than the S.C. average of about $15 and less than $22 that Mack Trucks workers had earned under their contract negotiated by the United Auto Workers union.
Mack Trucks was the state’s first major vehicle assembly plant when it opened about 1988, six years before BMW opened its car plant in Greer.
But Volvo, which bought Mack Trucks in 2001, had a larger, more modern plant in Virginia and announced the Winnsboro plant would close.
Mack Trucks’ employment had fallen to about 700 before it produced its last truck in November 2002.

By early 2003, Fairfield County had a 640,000-square-foot building on the market — one of the state’s largest modern, single-story industrial vacancies.
The loss of Mack Trucks accounted for the bulk of Fairfield County’s 1,800 jobs lost from 2000 to 2004 — one of the steepest drops among the state’s 46 counties. The county had only 5,800 jobs last year, forcing many residents to commute to nearby counties.

Winnsboro redoubled its efforts to keep the town attractive, launching a series of improvements from replacing sidewalks to replanting trees on Main Street. Many shops have opened, and old buildings once thought doomed are being renovated, said Rachel Gibson, Winnsboro’s director of downtown development.
Still, the town needs more jobs closer to home, she said.
“Anything that affects our unemployment rate is positive for downtown,” she said.

Guardian plans to install equipment that will allow it to produce molten glass from sand and other ingredients. The plant would be able to generate up to 80 million pounds per year of fiberglass batting for walls and floors, and loose fibers blown into attics, according to a report filed by the company with state regulators.

The fiberglass plant will be part of the company’s Guardian Building Products subsidiary based in Greer.
Guardian began in Detroit in 1932 making windshields for automakers, and in 1979 began making fiberglass.

600450 Manufacturer to create 150 jobs in Winnsboro
Date: 9 January 2006

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