Silver Lining: Productivity Improvements Help Attract Purchaser for Plant Being Closed

The story began in the spring of 2002, when top management at Black and Decker announced that its Waynesboro Kwikset facility was being evaluated for possible closure. Local managers began a battle to turn the plant around, and with help from Georgia Tech, made significant improvements in safety, quality, cost, service and productivity.
Despite these improvements, however, Black and Decker decided to close the plant due to excess capacity at its lockset-manufacturing facilities.
But the story has a silver lining.
As a result of improvements made through the plant's partnership with Georgia Tech's Economic Development Institute, the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, QuickStart and the Development Authority of Burke County -- among others -- the facility proved attractive to a muffler manufacturer that has announced plans to purchase the plant and retain part of Kwikset's work force.
Fleetguard, a subsidiary of Cummings, Inc., produces mufflers and other small parts such as tubing, frames for motorcycles and parts used in small engines, RVs, ATVs and personal watercraft. The company expects to employ about 100 workers initially and up to 400 within a five-year period.
David Gill, Fleetguard's director of global manufacturing projects, said the training Kwikset's employees received from Georgia Tech influenced the company's decision to locate in Waynesboro.
"When we were looking at facilities around the Southeast, we were looking for more than just the land and a building. We needed a location near our customer base and we needed a culture that viewed work force skill development and training as important," Gill noted. "The level of training provided by Georgia Tech to help develop the work force at Kwikset was influential in the decision to locate in Waynesboro."