Citing several years of significant decline in the demand and sales of conventional commodity wall tile and trim, Florida Tile Industries has announced the planned closure and consolidation of its Lakeland, Fla., manufacturing plant, one of three manufacturing facilities the company operates. The move will begin in Jan. 2004 and be completed by approximately the middle of the year.

The decision affects 127 manufacturing jobs, with some selected positions to have the opportunity to relocate to the company's remaining plants in Lawrenceburg, Ky., or Shannon, Ga. Sixty-two corporate positions, including executive and most other customer support positions, will remain in Lakeland.

Scott Fullerton, Florida Tile's new COO said, "We are working closely with the management team to ensure that our high levels of service are maintained through this transition. Our plan is to have no interruptions in the excellent fill rates our customers expect from us, and we'll also be investing in new technology, jobs, and processes in both Kentucky and Georgia to greatly enhance our product capabilities in the coming year."

Opened in 1954, Florida Tile's Lakeland facility has long been a major employer in the area, at one time employing over 700 workers. Today, the facility employs 127 manufacturing people and also serves as the company's corporate headquarters, housing another 62 corporate and support positions. Florida Tile was recently acquired by Milestone Capital Partners (MMP), a Washington D.C., based private equity firm.