FORT WORTH, Texas -- Fuqua Industries Inc. said Friday it will close Snapper power equipment plants in Fort Worth and Beatrice, Neb., idling some 550 workers in Fort Worth and another 55 in Beatrice.
The company's Snapper division makes industrial and residential lawn mowers, tillers, snow blowers and other lawn products. Fuqua has owned Snapper for about 23 years.
Snapper's sales have declined from a peak of about $288 million in 1987 to about $191 million in 1989. Over that time, pre-tax profits have declined from about $59 million to less than $3 million.
However, Snapper had shown improved results in 1990, but the company has not released financial statements for last year.
Fuqua, in an announcement from its Atlanta headquarters, said the manufacturing operations will be consolidated into an existing facility in nearby McDonough, Ga.
The McDonough plant will be 'reorganized and expanded' to accommodate production currently handled at the Fort Worth plant and the smaller Nebraska facility, the company said.
Fuqua said it will take a charge of between $13 million and $16 million,before tax benefits, against 1990 earnings to account for the closings.
After the consolidation is completed by this spring, annual cost savings to Snapper are estimated to be about $10 million, the company said.
Fuqua President Lawrence Klamon said that, because Snapper recently reorganized its engineering and manufacturing processes, the division will be able to produce more products in the McDonough plant than it had previously produced in all the three plants.
'After the closing, most of those will be laid off. There may be some employees who will transfer to McDonough, but the bulk of them will be gone,' Klamon said in a telephone interview.
He said Fuqua expects to sell the Fort Worth plant, with about 485, 000 square feet of space, after the consolidation but declined to give details.
'The closings are not the result of any financial problems,' Klamon said. 'The reorganization in McDonough freed up a significant amount of space. So the economics was compelling.
'Also, 65 percent of our customers are east of the Mississippi and most of the production from Fort Worth was going east of Mississippi anyway.'