Gulistan Workers Saw Closing Coming
Gulistan Carpet employees in Aberdeen apparently had an inkling that the company was in trouble but were still taken aback last month after receiving a letter that the plant was closing.
"It seems like a lot of them suspected this was coming, so they were a little bit more mentally prepared," said Gene Norton, manager of the N.C. Division of Employment Security (DES) office in Aberdeen. "But it's still a traumatic experience."
Norton's assessment Thursday came a day after an 8 a.m. meeting with about 85 employees coming off the graveyard shift.
"They didn't seem to be down," he said.
Norton and his Rapid Response Visit team met with employees Wednesday and Thursday as they came off their shifts at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
"The majority of them are older and have been with the company for a number of years," he said. "Most of them don't want to retire. They want to continue training, so I'm glad Sandhills Community College was there to talk to them about their programs.
"We're hoping to make the transition from one job to another as easy as we can."
Norton added that other companies in the region are inquiring about the availability of former Gulistan employees.
"I think there will be a fairly significant number of job postings in the near future because other companies in Moore and the surrounding counties know there will be job seekers in the market who are stable and have great histories with one employer. Companies love that," he said.
Gulistan, which at one time was the largest employer in Moore County, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court, the company announced earlier this week in a news release.
The business reorganization is intended to enable Gulistan to investigate options to sell the business or to allow for the orderly end of its operations in Aberdeen and Wagram, the release said.
The voluntary petition was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
"Chapter 11 gives us the best opportunities to maximize the value of the Gulistan business and its assets," Gulistan CEO Phillip Essig said in a statement. "The board of directors, the senior management team and I would like to express our appreciation for the hard work and loyalty of our employees. We also want to thank our customers for their continued support and loyalty."
Gulistan announced last month that it was closing its operations in Aberdeen and Wagram, eliminating nearly 400 jobs, according to a letter the company sent Dec. 28 to employees. A majority of the jobs lost will come from the larger Aberdeen facility.
The letter states that the company is "in the process of permanently winding down all operations" at its facilities on N.C. 5 in Aberdeen and on Airbase Road in Wagram "beginning immediately and continuing over the course of approximately the next four months."
Mark and Camelia Adel, owners of Liberty Tax Service on N.C. 5 in Aberdeen, announced earlier this week that they will prepare 2012 tax returns for Gulistan employees for free.
"The plant closing has left these employees facing uncertainty in a difficult economy," Mark Adel said. "We want to reach out to these families because they will have increased urgency in getting their tax refunds."
Bank of America has agreed to provide Gulistan with working capital during the transition, which is subject to court approval and other conditions. Gulistan believes that it has sufficient liquidity to operate its business during Chapter 11 and to continue the flow of goods and services to its customers in the ordinary course, the release said.
Gulistan is continuing to produce carpet and ship orders with adequate inventory to service current styles.
"We appreciate the strong customer support of Gulistan over the years and look forward to continuing our relationship with our customers during these difficult times," Essig said.
The Aberdeen property has been owned by several companies and has produced textiles and carpets there since 1957. Gulistan Carpet Inc. has been operating there since 1995.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt@the
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