400 workers to lose jobs at Mohawk plant

Mohawk Industries plans to layoff 400 workers from its East Dublin manufacturing plant.

The company informed the Georgia Department of Labor of the cuts Thursday, according to the Labor Department Web site — categorizing it as a “substantial layoff.”

The plant will keep 190 workers, retaining their dyeing operation and the customer service department, Dublin Mayor Phil Best said.

Workers will be laid off “between now and March” from the carpet mill that sits at 443 Nathaniel Drive, Best said.

Mohawk Industries is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is a supplier of residential and commercial flooring, including carpet, ceramic tile, wood, stone and laminate, according to the company’s Web site.

Mohawk, based in Calhoun, announced its second quarter earnings Thursday. The company made second quarter net earnings of $46 million, after a net loss of $106 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The company has seen its share prices increase during the month of July. July 10, a share cost $32.20, and when the NYSE closed Friday, it hit $51.58.

Mohawk executives met with city and county officials yesterday and were legally obligated to inform them of the layoffs.

“They feel like they could be more profitable by divesting what was here and putting it into five different plants,” said Brian Rogers, Laurens County administrator.

While Mohawk will keep using the building, some of the production equipment will be removed, Rogers said. The plant will still produce a reduced line of soft surface material, he said.

The impact the layoffs will have on Laurens is “huge,” Rogers said.

“It’s tragic and all we can do is come together and work to bring new industry to Laurens County,” he said.

East Dublin Mayor George Gornto called the layoffs “a big blow to anybody, especially a small community.”

“It’s especially going to be devastating for the 400 employees,” he said.

Gornto said he didn’t think the community could absorb that many workers given the current economic times.

“I don’t think there’s that many jobs out there,” he said. Maybe they can find a job after workers get retrained, he said.

Dublin will survive though, Best said. “We still have a pretty good, diverse industry base here.”

City and county officials described Mohawk as a “good corporate member” of the community.

At one time, Mohawk, with an estimated 800 employees, was the largest employer in Laurens County, he said.

“The great thing is they’ve been here for 47 years. They’ve employed a lot of people. It’s just a sign of the times,” Gornto said.