Dash Recycled Rubber, a subsidiary of Dash Multi-Corp Inc., has laid off 23 of 43 workers at its facility in Macon.
Company officials, however, hope to use the downtime to make the plant more efficient, with a goal of rehiring the laid-off workers and maybe hiring more.
Dash Multi-Corp announced the layoffs Sept. 2, giving the workers an extra two-week paycheck as part of their severance package. From its previous 24-hour, seven-day operations, Dash Recycled Rubber will now run its tire granulating line in one 40-hour shift per week, and its mill line 24 hours a day, five days a week.
The plant's maintenance crew will work outside those shifts to improve the facility's efficiency.
Besides maintenance, the company hopes to perform some equipment installation and retooling to bring the plant up to its potential as a crumb rubber production facility, according to Gregory J. Divis, senior vice president of Dash Multi-Corp.
``If we had felt there wouldn't be opportunities to do what we wanted to do with the plant, the closure would have been complete,'' Mr. Divis said. ``We have to make it more efficient and get more pounds of crumb rubber per hour.''
Mr. Divis declined to say how much crumb rubber the plant now produces or by what percentage Dash Multi-Corp seeks to increase production.
Besides consulting with Macon town officials about the Dash Recycled Rubber plant and the laid-off workers, Dash Multi-Corp is talking to Missouri state officials about programs available to assist Dash in expanding the operation. Macon City Administrator Andrew Morris said Dash seeks loans in the neighborhood of $750,000.
Dash Multi-Corp is a St. Louis-based holding company with a growing family of companies in the recycled rubber and plastics, coated fabric and flooring product industries. Besides Dash Recycled Rubber, Dash Multi-Corp also owns RB Rubber Products Inc., the McMinnville, Ore., recycled rubber product manufacturer, as well as RB Rubber Recycling in Portland, Ore.
Besides improving efficiency at Dash Recycled Rubber, Mr. Divis said, Dash Multi-Corp also hopes eventually to take Dash Recycled Rubber in the direction of RB Rubber and establish some product manufacturing in Macon.
Currently, Dash Recycled Rubber produces many grades of crumb rubber, ranging from 30 mesh for adhesives, caulks and tires to 3/8-inch chips for athletic fields and playgrounds, Mr. Divis said.
Mr. Divis is completing the paperwork for the state programs and said he hopes to hear back from the state in six months or so. He also said that once the work at the plant is complete, the company hopes to rehire as many of the laid-off workers as possible and gradually increase employment at the facility to 70 or more.
The Dash Recycled Rubber plant was first established in Macon in 2000 under the name Recycled Rubber Inc., according to Mr. Morris. Welch Products Inc. owned the facility for a time, and then Dash Multi-Corp bought it, beginning operations there Nov. 1, 2002, according to Mr. Divis.