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Picking up steam

Ames True Temper to increase production

May 11, 2008
By Holli Sunderland
LEWISTOWN — The closure of an assembly plant in Kentucky is expected to bring an increase in production to Ames True Temper’s Lewistown facility, company executives announced during an open house event held Saturday.

The Lewistown facility also has completed a transformation to make its production process more environmentally friendly, the executives said.

The company’s shovel production accounts for 75 to 80 percent of the U.S. domestic market, said Duane Greenly, president of Ames True Temper - U.S.

Ames True Temper in Lewistown is a shovel manufacturing plant. According to its 2008 first-quarter report, the company is considered “a leading manufacturer and marketer of non-powered lawn and garden tools and accessories.”

“When we first made our decision to move to central Pennsylvania ... we thought there was growth possibility, and it came to fruition,” Greenly said.

Greenly explained Saturday that part of the company’s Louisville, Ky., plant is scheduled to shut down.

“The distribution plant is still there, (but) the assembly made a lot more sense to be up here,” Greenly said.

David Randolph, director of shovel operations at the Lewistown plant, estimated that production at the Lewistown facility will increase from about four-and-a-half million shovels to six million shovels a year — a 33 percent production increase.

The production transfer also may result in a slight increase in jobs at the plant.

“We’re going to bring in about 10 to 15 additional people. That’s on a base of about 130,” Randolph said.

He also explained why production is being transferred from the Kentucky location to Mifflin County.

“(The Lewistown plant) is the low-cost shovel provider. (Its) ability to be more productive, have higher quality and offer more service” contributed to the

transition, Randolph said.

Company officials also took some time Saturday to describe the factory’s distribution and manufacturing process.

“Our business has a U.S. branch and a Canadian branch. Eighty-five to 90 percent of our total business is (in the) U.S.,” Greenly said.

The company’s 10-K report states that about 1,779 full-time employees worked for the company as of Sept. 29, 2007, with the majority of the workers in manufacturing and distribution for the U.S. market.

The company operates five distribution centers in North America, and one center that is outsourced overseas. The largest center is located in Carlisle, the report indicates.

Greenly said the company’s ability to maintain its operations primarily in the U.S. is because “we’ve been able to figure out how to do it competitively, like here in Lewistown.”

At the Lewistown facility, it’s a five-days-a-week, three-shift operation, Randolph explained.

“We’re currently making about 17,000 shovels a day. We make the handles, we make the blades and we do all the assembly here,” he said.

According to the company’s Web site, its brand-name products include Ames, Ames True Temper, True Temper, Garant and Stanley, as well as several contractor-oriented brands, such as UnionTools, Razor-Back Professional Tools and John Deere, from Deere & Co.

On Saturday, the factory displayed several of the shovels it produces. One type of shovel, the Ridgid — a product that has an extended socket — was designed in Lewistown, Randolph said.

When it comes to shovels in general, Randolph said “We send them out in boxes, about 300 in a box. All different kinds of shovels come all different kinds of ways.”

Randolph and Greenly also discussed increased efforts at the Lewistown plant to implement ‘green’ technology— a phrase commonly used when eco-efficient measures are taken as a means to be more environmentally friendly.

“We designed the facility to be green,” Greenly said. Both men explained some of the plant’s green measures, including the recycling of water.

The plant recycles its water to create very little “scale,” Greenly said. Randolph explained that “scale” is the rust produced from the manufacturing process.

Randolph also spoke of the plant’s wood usage and its change in energy usage.

Most of the wood is recycled, he said, explaining that shovel handles can be cut back or the wood is ground into sawdust.

Sawdust has many uses and very little wood goes to waste, he said.

The plant also underwent a transformation from gas to electric power for manufacturing, Randolph said.

He said the transition was like going from a gasoline-powered automobile to an electric one.

“It’s like removing 967 SUV’s from the road for one year,” Randolph said.

Fiscal sales for the company in the first quarter of 2008 show a 16.4 percent increase from last year’s first quarter, and net loss showed a decrease, according to the company’s first-quarter report.

The company’s second quarter report is expected to be released Tuesday, according to the company’s Web site.

For more information about the company, go online to

Article Photos

David Randolph, director of shovel operations at Ames True Temper in Lewistown, stands by an oversized shovel on display in the plant. Randolph attended the open house held Saturday in the Lewistown manufacturing facility.



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