By Jody Stewart
A big economic setback for Lafayette will happen before the end of the year when Kardoes Rubber will close it’s doors and the city will lose approximately 90 skilled labor jobs.
Monday around 3pm news started to filter thru town about the business closing. One employee who asked not to be named commented, “It is a sad day for me. I have felt very fortunate to have a good job close to home. I have enjoyed working there and it has been good for my family.”
Back in July of 2014 the Swedish company HEXPOL signed an agreement to acquire Kardoes Rubber Company for a reported $31.8 million. HEXPOL is a world-leading polymers group with strong global market positions in advanced polymer compounds, gaskets for plate heat exchangers (Gaskets) and wheels made of plastic and rubber materials for forklifts and castor wheel applications (Wheels).
The President and CEO of HEXPOL Mikael Fryklund, released this statement in July of 2019 in regards to the financial standing of the organization.” The sales increased 6 percent while operating profit was slightly lower, in the second quarter 2019. Organically we had a negative sales development in the quarter and saw consequently a continued softening in demand mainly from automotive related customers. The lower organic volume was managed in a good way. The operating cash flow was strong and increased by 36 percent. We are very pleased with the acquisition of Preferred Compounding, in the beginning of July, which strengthens our global positions within advanced polymer compounds with improved supply chain, excellence within polymer materials and solid application know-how. The sales increased 11 per cent and earnings per share increased to 2.47 SEK, in the first half-year 2019. Our financial position remains strong and we are well equipped for further expansion.”
Apparently despite the company doing good as a whole, HEXPOL still felt the need to close their LaFayette plant.
Kardoes Rubber was started by Frank Kardoes in 1988 and was a well-known rubber company in the U.S. market. It had a first class rubber mixing facility that houses three mixing lines with a mixing capacity of over 200 million pounds per year. At that time it was reported that the company had a turnover of $43 million in 2013.
When contacted locally Kardoes Rubber said they had no comment and could not verify any information at this time. Word on the street is that December 31, 2019 will be the plants last day, but this could not be verified. A press release is expected later this week.
For information on how the city responded to the news of the business closing see the report from Shannon Hunter.