Rausch has been the business editor since September 2008, previously serving as senior business reporter. He joined the Chronicle in April 2007. He has written for newspapers in Napoleon, Ohio, Moline, Ill., and Lima, Ohio. He holds a bachelor of science in journalism from Ohio University (1992). In 2006, he received a second place award in business writing from the Association Press in Ohio.
Posted November 25, 2009 07:35 am

Electrolux asked to reconsider

The Swedish word for reconsider is ompröva.

Troy Post, the director of the Development Authority of Columbia County, made that statement to Electrolux last week on the heals of the news that Augusta wasn’t in the consideration for its new North American headquarters. (Though I don’t think he said it in Swedish.)

He said the local executives who are awaiting word as to which city will be host to their new offices were cordial, but their hands were tied. These decisions are being made in Stockholm, the global headquarters.

While it is heartening that some of Electrolux is staying (the 215-person customer service center), it is disheartening that this community isn’t even in the running for the new headquarters when it has been the headquarters for more than 20 years.

The company indicated that this is not a reflection on Augusta, Mr. Post said.

“It is an issue of consolidation that we’re seeing a lot of companies going through,” Mr. Post said. “This is what businesses do, especially businesses that had acquisitions over the years and took on branches.”

The new headquarters will have the staff from Augusta, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Nashville and Columbus, Ohio. There’ll be 750 people in the new building.

Because the company is leaving its customer service center here in Augusta, it will still have a presence for the Sage Valley junior golf tournament that it is sponsoring, so at least some of the outside effects of losing a nameplate company won’t happen – all of its money isn’t leaving with it.

What Augusta is losing is 315 executive/management jobs. Those are the kinds of jobs that have community developers salivating. There’s even an industry term for them: high value added jobs. Six-figure salaries don’t grow on trees.

“You want companies that have those kinds of positions. We’ll re-double our efforts to find like firms,” Mr. Post said.

Glad to see there was at least an effort made to get Electrolux to reconsider moving the headquarters out of Augusta, technically Martinez.

The official word isn’t expected until next month. The conversations among the business community has Electrolux’s sales office north of Charlotte as the likely pick for the new HQ.

That’s where Husqvrna is going. The Electrolux spinoff company has been slowing moving its headquarters out of Augusta for Charlotte since August.

NOT SO SWEET COOKIES: The Swedes aren’t the only ones causing tears in Augusta. The Kellogg’s plant has baked up a combination of grow then shrink.

The bakery got some new products and was able to boost its employment by 220 people – though technically they work for a staffing firm that’s been given the outsourcing mission.

On the same day that the financing for that expansion was approved, the company laid off an undisclosed number of people, although some of them aren’t leaving until January.

The tipster employee who provided the information to me estimates more than 50, but less than 100 employees were laid off. The official sources won’t comment on how many people were let go.

There’s still a net gain of jobs out there this year: rising from 500 to 700, and then minus the “undisclosed” folks.

And there is an inference of more jobs to come if the other initiatives that are supposed to use the remaining $20 million in bond financing comes to fruition in 2010.

For those of you who are confused about bond financing: Richmond County didn’t give Kellogg’s $30 million. The company got industrial revenue bonds, borrowed money that it pays back, which has to be done through a government agency like the development authority in order to qualify for better interest rates and tax breaks. As a matter of fact, Keebler, a division of Kellogg’s, is buying the bonds.

INDIAN TRUCKS: The Gerald Jones family of dealerships in Martinez is waiting for the U.S. government to get done testing the Indian pickup trucks before it can start selling them, becoming one of the first – if not the first – in the nation to offer Mahindra & Mahindra trucks.

Testing should be done and vehicles arriving in February, says the dealer’s marketing company.

Work continues on the showroom on Washington Road which once belonged to Isuzu.
A company in Atlanta has the contract to import the Mahindra diesel trucks and distribute them to American dealers.