Wilson County manufacturers keep it afloat


By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

Although there is unemployment here, the June figure released recently by the state labor department was 9.6 percent, Wilson County has not seen large layoffs by employers in recent months.

G.C. Hixson, executive director of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board, said that Wilson County is better off than other counties because of the different types of businesses here, especially the manufacturing companies.

“It’s very unusual for a first-tier community outside of Nashville to be as heavy in manufacturing as Wilson County is,” Hixson said. “Most of them, like Franklin, have a lot of retail.”

But it’s these manufacturers that keep Wilson County afloat, Hixson said. It’s those kinds of businesses that bring in other manufacturers.

“Like-type industries breed like-type industries and skills,” Hixson said. “We can bring in other manufacturers and show them Lochinvar and TRW and show them that we have the workers with the types of skills they need.”

Hixson said that “it did hurt when Hartmann Luggage moved out, as well as Toshiba, and it will hopefully not hurt as badly now that Dell has announced they are leaving.”

Hartmann Luggage was sold last year but still operates a plant here. Toshiba moved its manufacturing efforts elsewhere but maintains a parts facility in Lebanon.

GENCO Supply Chain Solutions is taking over the Dell facility in Eastgate Business Park. GENCO is North America's largest U.S.-based and a Global Top 50 third-party logistics provider and the recognized leader in Reverse Logistics. The company manages more than 130 operations and 37 million square feet of warehouse space throughout North America for a diverse range of retail, manufacturing and government customers.

The Dell plant in Lebanon included receipt and remanufacturing operations, test, remanufacture, repair and refurbishment of desktop, notebook, server and storage systems which Dell then sells as refurbished product. GENCO will extend similar service offerings to other manufacturers of electronic devices in the 298,000 square foot facility.

Hixson could not comment on future businesses that are moving to Wilson County, but said that he has seen more activity recently than he saw two months ago for real estate companies that work for businesses looking in Wilson for space. He added that Wilson County had the most available space in the area.

“We’ve got a good mix of businesses here,” Hixson said. “The logistics of (State Route) 840 and I-40 really help us a lot.”

The pace of employer layoffs appears to have slowed for now with the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development reporting 38 layoffs in Tennessee during the past week in manufacturing and education.

Those took place in Marshall and Maury counties, with Teledyne Electronic Manufacturing Services losing 20 workers and the Marshall County School System shedding 12. In Maury County, Graftech International Holdings laid off six workers.

No other layoffs were reported. There were also no layoffs in the previous week's report.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 10.8 percent for June, up 0.1 percentage point from the May rate and higher than the national unemployment rate for June of 9.5 percent.

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be reached at ben@wilsonpost.com.

Wilson County EmployersRank Name    Full-Time Employees1. Wilson County Schools  1,5002. CBRL Group Inc.   9723. University Medical Center  9004. Performance Food Group  7605. Jones Bros. Construction Co.  6006. Wilson County Government  5797. Lebanon Special School District 4808. Nashville Auto Auction  4759. LoJac Enterprises   41010. (Tie) Lochinvar Corp.   40010. (Tie) Wal-Mart   40012. City of Lebanon Government  35013. GENCO    26614. Environmental Science Corp.  26015. Wilson Bank & Trust   25816. Genesco    23017. SouthTec    22018. Kroger     21019. Prospect Inc.    20020. Perma-Pipe Inc. (MFRI)  18321. MEDIAmail Packaging  17522. TRW Automotive U.S.  17023. Famous Footwear   16824. (Tie) Campbell-Hausfeld Paint 15024. (Tie) Wilson Sporting Goods  150

-- Employment figures provided by Joint Economic & Community Development Board of Wilson CountyStaff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at ben@wilsonpost.com.