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Escalade stops manufacturing in Evansville

August 20, 2008

Escalade Inc., an Evansville-based sporting goods manufacturer, plans to close its final Evansville plant in an effort to restore profits and boost a sagging stock price.

Table tennis production will be moved to Mexico beginning Sept. 5, causing 30 workers to lose their jobs, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.

In February the company said it would move a children's archery line to China rather than upgrade equipment in Evansville. That decision tossed 25 workers out of jobs.

After the latest closing, Escalade will retain only its headquarters and a distribution facility in Evansville along with 115 employees.

The cutbacks are a far cry from a heady era earlier in the decade when Escalade snapped up company after company through acquisition.

The company also was shaken in April last year when CEO Daniel Messmer died suddenly. He was replaced by Robert J. Keller, who came from Disston Tool Co., a Philadelphia manufacturer of tools, blades and valve components.

Profit stagnated in the final quarter of last year, and then Escalade swung to an $800,000 first-quarter loss and $700,000 in red ink during the second quarter.

Escalade shares have dropped to $3.40 a share after peaking at $23.11 in June 2004. The stock had traded near $10 for much of the past couple of years.

In addition to archery equipment, Escalade makes pool tables, basketball goals and other sports equipment.

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