By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – After operating for a dozen years in Yalobusha County, Avery Outdoors is closing its distribution center in the county-owned building in Coffeeville.
Company President Allen Hughes notified county officials last week of the decision, explaining that the company needed more space. Avery Outdoors is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of waterfowl hunting accessories and currently operates two distribution centers, one in Coffeeville and a second in Memphis.
“We have been maxed out space-wise for a couple of years,” Hughes told the Herald Monday. “We had shipping containers coming in and did not have room for them.”
With the move, Hughes said the company will use a third party distribution company for both storing and shipping his products.
Hughes said that closing the Coffeeville plant will eliminate 22 jobs and was a painful decision.
“There is a fantastic crew down there. Personally it was awful to make this decision. Business wise, it was the right decision for our company,” Hughes explained.
Avery has occupied a county-owned building in Coffeeville for more than a decade, paying $100 per month rent after agreeing to employee 50 workers in the Coffeeville location. When Avery’s contract with the county expired last year, supervisors renegotiated the contract in August and asked Avery to pay fair market value, or $5,000 per month, to lease the building.
Hughes said the closure will not happen immediately, but his company will begin to downsize in May and June.
The move comes after Hughes and county officials had worked for almost three years to find an alternative for Avery Outdoors. Options discussed included selling Avery Outdoors county-owned land adjacent to their Coffeeville location for an expansion or finding another existing building in Yalobusha County which would have allowed the company to move it’s entire operation to the county.
“If we had expanded the plant in Coffeeville, it was not going to create enough jobs to get the county or state excited,” Hughes explained. The expansion could have created a handful of jobs, which would not have met the threshold for state funding or county investment.
“The guys on the Board of Supervisors all tried to make it work, they are a good group,” Hughes added.
Yalobusha County Economic Development Director Bob Tyler told the Herald that the economic development board will be meeting with plant employees in an effort to get them relocated.
“We regret that Avery Outdoors is leaving Coffeeville,” Tyler said. “But I want to emphasize that we will now have a really large facility that we can market.”
“I have talked with Alan Hughes a number of times, so I can understand his need to centralize his operations,” Tyler added. He also praised Roseanne Easley, the plant manager, and the dedicated workers currently employed at Avery Outdoors in Coffeeville.
“Mrs. Easley is an outstanding manager and administrator, she can really be an asset for another company,” Tyler added.
Hughes said his company is renting the building on a month-to-month basis, and did not give an exact date when they would be completely out.
“I value our time down there, there is no negative except a space issue,” he added.