Job cuts coming to Prattville plant

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - After 177 years of operation on the banks of the Autauga Creek, Contenental Eagle Corporation says it will phase out manufacturing of cotton gin and related machinery at iContinentalle plant.

The company's president, Roger Fermon, made the announcement last week to employees. Nearly all of the company's product line will be outsourced to India.

"The extended downturn in the cotton industry here in the United States and throughout the cotton growing regions of the world combined with significant raw material cost increases have caused us to review our corporate structure and the direction we will take the company," said Mr. Fermon.

Continental Eagle Corporation says it will continue to operate out of Prattville, but on a different level and with a revised business model.  Some light manufacturing will be retained for repairs and for a small number of items.  "We will operate primarily as a marketing and engineering firm, maintaining our expertise in machinery design and distribution of our products to the cotton industry," says Fermon.  "Our spare parts sales and after sale service as well as our research and development will remain here in Prattville.  Our branch offices throughout the USA and in Australia will continue as they have in the past to service our customers."

Prattville Mayor Jim Byard, Jr. met with Fermon and Bill Goodwin, Continental's CFO, Tuesday. "I am confident that today's announcement will allow the legacy, and the company, that our founder Daniel Pratt started in 1832, to remain the same," Byard said. "Further it allows the company's family ownership to remain the same, and positions Continental Eagle to continue meeting the needs of their customers."

Advancements in technology in recent years have brought down the number of gins needed to produce large crops. The number of gins has steadily shrunk from 1600 to just over 700 in the last twenty years. Producing acreage is also shrinking, down an estimated 50 percent in the last year, according to Byard.

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