The Meridian Star
From staff and AP wire reports
CertainTeed Corp. says work is on track for a July reopening of its Meridian ceiling tile plant the company closed in 2009.
And Graham Thayer, vice president and general manager for CertainTeed Ceilings, tells the Mississippi Business Journal that the settlement of a defective products case will not jeopardize plans to reopen the ceiling materials plant in 2014.
The company announced in early November that it would settle a federal class action lawsuit relating to fiber cement siding it manufactured and installed over the last decade. The settlement will cost the company $103 million.
The Valley Forge-Pa. based company says the reopened plant will include $24 million in upgrades and will put more than 100 people to work in the next three years.
"The settlement regarding our fiber cement siding received preliminary approval after our decision was made to reopen the Meridian facility and in no way will impact the progress we are making to reach our targeted July 1, 2014 re-opening date," Thayer said.
The Mississippi Development Authority is putting in $1.1 million for the project. Lauderdale County is borrowing $700,000 for infrastructure and rail improvements, which it will administer through contracts. The county and city of Meridian will each pay back $350,000 of the loan.
CertainTeed, a subsidiary of French building supply conglomerate Saint-Gobain, stopped its Meridian production in 2009 during a market downturn, laying off 120 workers at the time. The company cited sluggish commercial building in choosing to close one of its two ceiling tile plants.
CertainTeed selected Meridian for the shutdown because the plant there is older than the sister plant in L'Anse, Mich. The company also operates a ceiling tile plant in Plymouth, Wis.
Thayer said the Meridian structure remained in good condition after its closing.
"So we are focused on installing new equipment and calibrating the production lines and to be fully operational - manufacturing and shipping our ceiling panel products to customers - by July 1."
In a November interview Thayer told The Meridian Star that business is looking up.
"Construction activity typically trends on a seasonal basis, primarily due to optimal weather conditions," Thayer said. " Since the announcement to reopen the plant in June, we have seen increased demand, especially in the health care and education markets."
Ceiling tiles have been manufactured in the Meridian facility since 1941 throughout various stages of ownership. CertainTeed took over the plant in 2005.