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09-21-05 Goodyear considers St. Marys plant sale

By Janie Southard

  Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. officials in Akron announced Tuesday they have put up for sale the company's engineered products business, which includes the St. Marys plant along with 29 others worldwide.

  J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. and Goldman, Sachs & Co. will serve as financial advisers for the possible sale.

  Goodyear chairman and CEO Robert J. Keegan said in a press release the engineered products business is not a core operation for the company.

  "We believe the best course of action is to focus all our resources on the growth of our core consumer and commercial tire businesses," he said in the release.

  Keegan also said prospective buyers will be considered who "recognize the considerable value of the business and its associates while maintaining Goodyear's level of service to customers."  The total employee count worldwide of the engineered products business is 7,000, but Goodyear officials in St. Marys and in Akron refused to give employee figures for individual plants. In addition to St. Marys, three other Ohio locations are up for sale, including in Akron, Marysville and Green, a suburb of Akron.

  According to the press release, the engineered products business had sales of $1.5 billion in 2004 and operating income of $113 million. Keegan said the unit is performing well.

  Highlighting the fact that current production will not be interrupted, Unit President Tim Toppen said in the release that the "decision to explore the sale would not interfere with its focus on daily operations and meeting customer needs."

  The local plant was built in 1939 on 18 acres of land south of St. Marys along old state Route 66. Over the years many additions were made to the original complex, which now boasts more than 18 acres under roof for the production of a variety of molded and extruded rubber goods, including tire tracks for military tanks.

  During the years of World War II, employment in St. Marys reached its zenith at almost 2,000 people, but that number has dropped significantly during the ensuing years.

  By 1960, the plant was the largest molded and extruded rubber goods plant in the world. In its background of products are included farm tires, rake teeth, crusher rolls and picker fingers and more for the agriculture industry.

  The engineered products unit makes rubber products for industrial, military, consumer and the transportation original equipment end-users. Products manufactured include hoses, conveyor belts, power transmission products, molded products and air springs.

  Calls to company officials in Akron were not returned this morning.


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