Airline Manufacturing closing in Columbus

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Airline Manufacturing Co. will shut down its furniture component plant on May 31 after 50 years of operation in Columbus.

Company Secretary-Treasurer Bonnie Triplett said the first phase of employee separation will be about April 30 and the last will be about Sept. 30.

The company currently employs about 80 people. It supplies wood component parts for upholstered furniture manufacturers. Triplett said operations will continue long enough to fill current orders and allow current customers to locate other suppliers.

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Airline Manufacturing was founded by the late Ralph Williamson with five employees in 1956. Over the years, the company grew from a 1,000-square-foot operation to its present 275,000-square-foot facility, and Williamson’s children and grandchildren remained involved in company operations.

Airline Manufacturing celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2006.

Company officials said in a statement that an increasing dependence of foreign imports in the U.S. and “and the continual shutdown of facilities by many of Airline’s largest customers have caused Airline, as a manufacturing facility, to no longer be able to compete with today’s market.”

Officials said the decision to close was made only after other options were exhausted.

Columbus-Lowndes Development Link Chief Executive Officer Joe Higgins said the organization will market the plant to potential buyers.