Goodyear, Back Forty Honored As Manufacturers Of Year

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Gadsden plant and Back 40 Beer Co. of Gadsden have earned 2014 Manufacturer of the Year honors from the Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Technology Network.

Goodyear was honored as Large Manufacturer of the Year (400 or more employees). Back 40 was cited as Small Manufacturer of the Year (1 to 99 employees).

The awards were presented during a luncheon ceremony at the Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery.

The awards program began in 2000, and recognizes Alabama’s manufacturing enterprises that exhibit excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations. Winning manufacturers are selected by an independent panel of judges who look for demonstrations of superior performance in customer focus, employee commitment, operating excellence, continuous improvement, profitable growth and investment in training and retraining.

Goodyear is celebrating its 85th year in Gadsden, and through a combination of leadership, strategic investment and dedicated employees, has rolled out millions of tires during that time.

It’s the largest employer in Etowah County, with a workforce of 1,550, and produces about 620,000 original equipment and replacement tires each month under the Goodyear, Dunlop, and Kelly brand names.

The plant produced 5,000 more tires per month in 2013 than 2012, without hiring additional labor. Last year, it delivered more than $12 million in cost savings and it’s expecting to save $15 million this year.

Goodyear-Gadsden is considered is one of the state’s premier manufacturers, enhancing company profits and increasing its market share with its 100 percent on-time delivery for original equipment customers as well as replacement tire customers.

Founded in 2009, Back Forty is one of Alabama’s entries in a new, national trend — craft brewing. Although it doesn’t pretend to compete with the giants of brewing, it now is the largest manufacturer of alcohol in Alabama. It plans to expand this year and create new opportunities for the community.

Back Forty is an old farming term referring to the 40 acres of land farthest from the barn. Like the back 40 acres, which often has very fertile land and is capable of producing a tremendous crop, the company says the Deep South’s craft beer culture is fertile and ready for harvest.

Back Forty Beer Co. is located in a 72-year-old, 27,000-square-feet building in downtown Gadsden. It produces seven award-winning artisan craft beers that are available for distribution in the Southeast, and also has an export development program focusing on Canada, Japan, Brazil and Sweden.

Its beer is available in Alabama’s major retail and grocery stores and popular eateries.

Other award winners were Prystup Packaging Products Inc. of Livingston, Medium Manufacturer of the Year (100 to 399 employees); Emerging Manufacturer of the Year, Airbus; and Best of the BEST (robotics competition), Wetumpka High School.

Times Staff Report