EUFAULA, Ala.—Rubber latex glove manufacturing has sprung up again after years of virtually no activity on U.S. soil.
Ameritex L.L.C., operating out of the former Alatech Healthcare L.L.C. dipping factory in Eufaula, has launched production of disposable rubber latex gloves, Greg Calhoun, co-owner of the company, confirmed in an interview.
Purchased in the latter part of 2015 by Harcal Inc., which is owned by Calhoun and comedian Steve Harvey, the company has refurbished the Eufaula plant and recently completed validation testing of gloves at the site. The firm said it is using domestic and imported latexes for it gloves.
Financial details on the plant purchase and refurbishing project were not released.
Ameritex has set up the facility to initially produce natural rubber latex gloves, but it also has launched an extensive research program that is expected to lead to the manufacture of nitrile, low protein and synthetic gloves, a company official said.
In addition to nonsterile examination gloves, the company plans to produce sterile examination and surgical gloves, as well as specially engineered gloves for the industrial and retail markets, the firm said.
Its hand protection wear currently is targeted for commercial and domestic use and a variety of markets, including medical, dental, retail, industrial, and government, both federal and state.
Ameritex is ramping up production to an estimated capacity of about 720 million gloves per year, it said, and has the capacity to expand that figure to an additional 360 million gloves annually at the plant.
While the company said the Eufaula facility has the potential to bring about 300 jobs to the area, it currently operates with a small work force of between 15 and 30 workers.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a press release that the state's “strong pro-business climate and dedicated work force is a testament to the decision to open the Ameritex plant in Eufaula and create 300 new jobs.” He added that he appreciated the partnership of Harvey and Calhoun on economic development.
Alatech last used the Eufaula plant in 2009 when it no longer made gloves but was producing condoms under an AIDS contract with the U.S. government for shipment to poorer nations. The company lost the government contract, which was awarded to plants in Asia, and Alatech finally shut down after a long battle to remain afloat.
The facility had been among the last of the NR glove and condom facilities operating in the U.S.
For two decades prior to its closure, most production of rubber latex goods migrated overseas. Lower labor costs and the availability of cheaper materials in NR growing regions were given by companies as the primary reasons for the exodus.
The few that remained in the U.S. either couldn't compete and closed their doors or they gave in and followed their competition to Asia.
Church & Dwight Co. Inc., however, does still manufacture Trojan-brand condoms at its operation in Virginia.