Newell Rubbermaid’s newest distribution and storage facility is nearly fully operational in Brimfield Township, about a year after the company began shopping around the area for a new site.
With the new center open, Newell Rubbermaid will phase out its Wooster center in the next 30 to 45 days.
The closure in Wooster will mark the end of the company’s long-standing relationship with the town where Rubbermaid was founded, with the exception of a retail store in downtown Wooster, Everything Rubbermaid, remaining open.
Newell purchased the former Wooster-based Rubbermaid in 1999. In 2004, Newell Rubbermaid shut down its main Wooster plant and moved the headquarters to Atlanta.
In November 2011, the Atlanta-based company said it would be closing its Wooster distribution site, saying the lease was ending and it was not economical to truck products made in Mogadore nearly 80 miles round trip to Wooster. The company looked at sites in Mogadore and Brimfield. The site chosen —a 14-mile round trip from Mogadore — sits in a joint economic development district (JEDD) for Brimfield Township and Tallmadge.
The new center, on Progress Boulevard, covers 800,000 square feet. It is a quarter of a mile long and employs 150 workers.
There are about 1,000 Rubbermaid workers in Northeast Ohio in Brimfield, Mogadore and an office in Fairlawn, which houses about 39 customer service workers. There are also about 200 employees at a Calphalon plant and distribution center in Perrysburg, near Toledo.
In the past year, the company has added about 200 full-time positions in Northeast Ohio as the result of work transferred from other company facilities, such as Greenvile, Texas, and the new Brimfield distribution plant, company officials said.
About half of the distribution center workers and 26 other employees came from Wooster, said JB Broadous, director of Ohio operations who oversees both the manufacturing plant on Gilchrist Road in Mogadore and the distribution center. Broadous is a 19-year Newell veteran and took the Ohio position in May 2011.
The Wooster facility had 110 people, but many were eligible for retirement, he said. All workers were given the option to transfer to the new facility, he said. Some distribution and storage work from the Mogadore manufacturing plant also was transferred to the new Brimfield plant.
Wooster is now ramping down and has a skeleton crew, said Dan Kane, distribution manager of the Ohio campuses.
“It’s regrettable that the result of the decision” was to close the Wooster operations, Broadous said. “We had to make the right call” and the decision was driven by the need to further improve efficiencies, he said.
The new facility was built in seven months and began operations in late November and December.
It stores many of the products made down the road at the Gilchrist facility, including food-storage products, home organization totes and refuse products, and such kitchen items as dishpans and accessories. Also stored at the facility are products made at other locations, such as beverage bottles and such cleaning products as push brooms and mops.
There are 700 to 900 different products and more than 11 million pieces of inventory stored in the facility at any one time, said company officials. In Mogadore, more than 1 million pieces of product are made each day, Broadous said.
They include the company’s premier food-storage containers as well as the recently launched LunchBlox product, which are modular food-storage containers that snap together to stay in place and include ice packs.
On average, inventory will turn over at the distribution center four to five times a year, but there are times when a product could be made in Mogadore and shipped out the same day, officials said.
From the distribution center, shipments will go out to national and some international retailers, Broadous said. Depending on the contracts, some customers will send their own trucks for pickup and others will get delivery from Newell Rubbermaid trucks or through contracted carriers. The company also uses other methods of transportation to ship products, he said.
The center is a 24-hour continuous operation with workers shipping or “picking” orders to prepare for shipment, Broadous said.
The company has done quite a bit of hiring lately. It has hosted two job fairs and is still looking for 20 to 30 material handlers (forklift drivers) and 10 process technicians or mold repair technicians. Qualified candidates can email resumes to Recruiting_Ohio@newellco.com or drop off resumes in Mogadore at 3200 Gilchrist Road.
The Mogadore facility recently was awarded the Newell Rubbermaid CEO Safety Excellence Award. Mogadore is the only facility companywide to be a five-time winner in the global program, Broadous said.
The company also has enhanced its community involvement, said Kristen Wolfe, human resources manager for Northeast Ohio. That includes supporting schools and charities in counties where it has operations, including Stark County.
Wolfe said while the company no longer has any facilities in Stark County, it still supports the community where it had operations and where employees live.