Local News

Iowa Supply Company To Locate East Coast Plant In Greenville

Posted Updated

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Employees of the former Rubbermaid plant here hope they can land some of the 250 jobs being created by an Iowa-based supplier for Home Depot and other retailers.

Gov. Mike Easley announced Thursday that Harper Brush Works would locate its first East Coast operation at the former Rubbermaid site and that the company intends to hire employees of the old plant over the next three years. The company is also expected to invest $5 million.

Rubbermaid once employed nearly 500 people in Greenville, making it the city's sixth-largest employer. More than 120 people were laid off in 2001, and the plant was closed last spring, eliminating 300 more positions.

"This is a validation that what (the former employees) did was meaningful and has some worth," said Leon Wright of Bethel, who worked at Rubbermaid for 31 years. He and several other former employees are ready to apply for positions with Harper.

"I'm 100 percent for Harper Brush, and I wish them complete success and hope they can grow," Wright said.

Harper, a century-old, family-owned company based in Fairfield, Iowa, makes more than 600 cleaning supply products, from industrial push brooms to industrial and household mops and other cleaning products, according to the company Web site.

Easley, who held a news conference Thursday in Greenville to announce Harper's move, said the new manufacturing, production and distribution jobs will pay average wages of $15 an hour.

Easley's One North Carolina Fund made a $150,000 grant to help lure Harper to come to the state, the governor said in a news release.

"This excellent facility and the skilled workforce will help us reach our manufacturing capacity, as well as enable us to deliver our products more efficiently to our customers in the eastern third of North America," company chief executive Barry Harper said.

A Pitt County deed shows PGV Properties purchased the Rubbermaid plant and 46 acres for $3 million on Dec. 30.

PGV is a limited liability corporation formed by members of his family to purchase the Rubbermaid plant and resume manufacturing operations, Harper said.

The corporation is negotiating to bring a second business to the plant, PGV Properties manager William Harper said.

Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.