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More jobs coming to Miracle in Monett

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The entrance to the main Miracle Recreation plant in Monett.
PlayPower, the parent company of Miracle Recreation Equipment, will be adding more manufacturing jobs to its factories in Monett. An announcement last week by PlayPower confirmed that all the manufacturing jobs located in Farmington would be moving to Monett by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, a 60,158-square-foot addition was built onto Miracle's facility on County Road. PlayPower's 200-job plastic rotational molding operation was consolidated in Monett in the new addition, establishing the Rotomold Center of Excellence.

Around 50 Rotomold jobs in Farmington, where PlayPower operated a Little Tikes factory, were moved to Monett this summer.

According to a press release issued last week from PlayPower's corporate office in Huntersville, N.C., the latest move is a continuation of efforts to consolidate the company's manufacturing.

"PlayPower had previously announced in January 2009 the intent to combine all U.S.-based rotational molding processes into a Center of Excellence," the company release stated. "Continuing this strategy to encompass all remaining manufacturing activities allows us to build on our existing manufacturing platform and the investments we have made over the past several years. The plan is to consolidate all other manufacturing processes into a Center of Excellence, also in Monett."

Before moving the Rotomold operation to Monett, PlayPower employed 1,000 people in Farmington. The Farmington plant had been a RubberMaid production facility that turned into a Little Tikes plant in 1995. PlayPower acquired the business in 2004.

The addition to Miracle's plant on County Road was figured at $1.4 million, according to the city building permit. How many jobs the latest move will bring to Monett is not known. No building permit has been filed for plant expansion.

According to the PlayPower news release, the decision to move manufacturing operations to Monett came after a comprehensive study to evaluate PlayPower's stature in the playground equipment industry.

"We believe a core element in this leadership position is the ability to have products competitively positioned in the marketplace. As a result, we will be focusing our total domestic manufacturing infrastructure into a PlayPower Center of Excellence in which all of its products for the domestic market will be produced," the company statement said.

Sales, marketing, product engineering and customer service functions will remain unchanged for Miracle, which makes commercial outdoor play systems. Other PlayPower divisions, including Soft Play, which makes soft contained play equipment worldwide, and EZ Dock, which markets rotationally molded floating docks and drive-on lifts for personal watercrafts and boats, will remain unchanged.

PlayPower plans to keep its Little Tikes line and leave its commercial sales, marketing, product development and customer service operations in the Farmington area.

"We will work with all employees to transition them to the Monett facility where feasible," the company statement said. "For those employees who are displaced by this action and who are not transitioned to Monett, we will make every effort to engage local employers and community services to assist with their transition to other employment."

Consolidation at the Monett facility is expected to be fully functional by 2010. No additional details were provided from management at Miracle in response to a request from The Times.

Officials in Farmington have been concerned about the Little Tikes plant closing since the company declined to sign another lease on its plant a year ago and began renting its building on a month-to-month basis.

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