Enterprise Florida helped keep Terry Ellis and his employees in Chipley.
In April 2009, WestPoint Home general manager Terry Ellis told his workers that the Chipley factory, which makes comforters, pillows and other bedding items, was moving to Mexico. Nineteen months later, he was able to announce the plant would stay. In the intervening months, new products were added, and both productivity and orders increased, says Ellis. Enterprise Florida assisted with Quick Response worker training and a tax refund. Employment, once 900 but falling to 250 after the closure announcement, recently increased to 415 as a third shift was reinstated.
Ellis also became convinced that logistics favored a U.S. plant. "It's difficult to compete with foreign labor costs, but we make a big bulky product and when you ship a big comforter from offshore, that's a lot of cost," says Ellis.