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Kelly Springfield Still Rolling Out Tires After 30 Years

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FAYETTEVILLE — Cumberland County's largest private employer is celebrating its 30th year of being in Fayetteville. Since opening in 1969, theKelly Springfield Tire Companyhas produced more than 350 million tires.

Kelly Springfield employs 3,500 people, and the positions pay well, which makes jobs there hard to come by. More and more manufacturing facilities are moving out of the states, but Kelly Springfield's management says the company is staying in Fayetteville.

Jesse Heard, 57, is an original employee of Kelly Springfield in Fayetteville. He has been on the job for 29 and a half years, and has no plans to retire.

"It's a challenge keeping up with the job and technology," Heard said.

In the last 30 years, the plant has grown in size and reputation. The facility now stretches over 2 million square feet, and employees produce more than 55,000 tires a day.

Darryl Evans gave up a job he had for 15 years to work there. He has wanted to work at the plant since he was a kid, and now does his job with pride.

"I have to do the best job I can do for Kelly Springfield to make sure Kelly stays here, because a lot of people in this community depend on it," Evans said.

The company contributes more than $200 million to the county's economy every year.

Other than a strike in 1997, production has been halted just four days in the last 10 years. However, rumors often circulate that Kelly Springfield will pack up and roll out of the United States. The plant's manager, Gary Roach, says there are no plans to leave Cumberland County.

He says this facility plays a key role inGoodyear's operations because of its size and flexibility.

"I certainly see that we will be an integral part of the Goodyear North American region for a long time," Roach said. "We are a big player in the North American region and for Goodyear."

As part of Kelly Springfield's celebration, the Goodyear Blimp flew in to Fayetteville to take employees for rides.


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