Casket Maker to Add 40 Jobs, Keeps Product Made in USA

April 26, 2010
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imageFlorence, AL – The Shoals Industrial Development Committee agreed Thursday to give $50,000 to Thacker Caskets for a project that will add about 40 employees during the next three years.

The funds will be part of a $1.65 million project to produce components for caskets.

Thacker moved from Loretto, Tenn., to the Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park in 2005, said Jim Spinks, vice president of manufacturing.

It employs about 160 workers, most of whom live in the Shoals, Spinks said. “So, we’ll be over 200 with this project.”

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Thacker purchases components for its products from American companies, and had the opportunity to buy them from China. Instead, the company wanted to keep things American-made, and decided to expand its existing plant to produce the materials.

Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, said Thacker looked at several communities when the company wanted to expand in 2002 from its Loretto location.

Local incentives helped officials decide on the Shoals.

Since then, they have added employees and now will add 40 more with the expansion, Wright said.

“Thacker Caskets is a fine example of what you hope inducements create,” Wright said.

He said construction for the newest expansion begins in June.

Spinks said Thacker began in 1939 in Washington, D.C., as a distribution business for casket manufacturers. The company decided to move into manufacturing in 1999, and bought Loretto Caskets.

At the time, Loretto made 22 caskets each day. By 2002, that number grew to 60 to 70 daily, Spinks said. “We recognized we were running out of space.”

They moved to Florence, purchasing two buildings once occupied by Tee Jays Manufacturing Co. Each building is 105,000 square feet, Spinks said. Since then, they bought an 85,000-square-foot building in the park.

He said the $1.65 million project has a three-year time line, and will add employees along the way.

Thacker, the fourth-largest casket company in America, pays around $11 an hour for starting employees.

Lauderdale County Commissioner D.C. Thornton, a member of the committee, said he appreciates Thacker’s desire to keep its products American-made.

Another board member, Florence Mayor Bobby Irons, said Thacker provides good salaries and benefits. “This is really the kind of example we like to see when an industry comes in.”

Source: TimesDaily.com

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