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Decatur Goodyear plant sale is final

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

For the first time since 1933, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. does not own a plant in Decatur.

A plan to sell the tire-fabric plant, announced in September, was finalized Friday with the transfer of the 19th Avenue Southeast plant and property to Utica Converters Inc., a New York company recently acquired by South Korean Hyosung Corp.

The plant employs 405. Hyosung officials did not comment Friday but previously have said they anticipate no major changes in employment at the plant.

As part of the $80 million purchase involving four tire-fabric plants, Hyosung agreed to supply Goodyear with $3.2 billion in tire cord over the next five to 10 years.

The sale came as employees at a dozen Goodyear plants, including one in Gadsden, voted Thursday to end a 12-week-old strike. United Steelworkers represented employees at the striking plants. United Food and Commercial Workers represents the Decatur employees.

The other three plants bought by Hyosung were in Utica, N.Y., Brazil and Luxembourg. The four plants combined employ 1,000 people.

Selling non-core assets

Goodyear announced about two years ago that it would begin concentrating on its core businesses and possibly sell non-core assets.

Hyosung also owns tire plants in Scottsville, Va., and Scottsburg, Ind.

It purchased both plants from Michelin North America and, as with the Goodyear sale, it entered a supplier agreement with the seller. Hyosung said it would retain all employees at those plants, which it bought in 2003 and 2005.

Goodyear is the oldest industry in Decatur. The first mill at the Goodyear plant was built in 1927 as Connecticut Mills. Goodyear bought the mill at auction in 1933 for $251,000. The fabric it produced for use in tires, now synthetic, was made from cotton.

Goodyear built another mill at the site in 1943. The U.S. government built a third mill, for wartime production, in 1944. After the war, Goodyear took over the mill.

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