Video: Longtime Columbus Business Struggles
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — If a buyer can not be found for a struggling Columbus business, owners may have to close up shop, sending hundreds of employees home. It could be the end of an era for Sanderson Plumbing Products. A longtime employee shares his thoughts on the companies fate and the joys of previous years.
In it’s heyday, Sanderson Plumbing was able to produce on average of some one million good quality wood and plastic toilet seats a month. When Caledonia resident Dale Darnell left the company after being on the payroll for 18 years, there were about 900 workers at the Tuffy Lane business, now there are only 250.
“I wish I had the money to buy it I know how to stir it up again,” said Dale Darnell, Caledonia.
Employees were like family, according to Darnell the company would make zero interest loans to workers who the owners never wanted to layoff.
“He would always say, are we going to cut somebody off. I said yeah, he’d say alright find a place to put them. We are not going to, well just let attrition take care of it. We are not going to cut people out here,” said Darnell.
But Darnell can only sit and ponder over what use to be. The former Lee High Science teacher is seen here in this picture next to employee Buster Beneke, breaking ground on a new office building. Work at the company was hard in those days but helped to put food on the table for Bill, Rick, and Sam, Dale and his wife Betty’s three sons.
“And a lot of evenings he came in really dirty where he’d been in the saw dust and that particular part of the plant or either he’d been in a hot oven. Just those kind of things,” said Betty Darnell, Caledonia.
Sanderson Plumbing is first to have built soft vinyl toilet seat and those used by NASA on space shuttle missions. Employees are on notice, if there is no buyer for the Columbus manufacturing plant by the end of April, it will mean closing the lid on this business.
“I really hate to see it close, because its been there so many years and so many people have depended on it for years for jobs. So I just hope they can work out some kind of deal and keep it,” said Betty Darnell.
Sanderson Plumbing Products has operated at it’s present location since 1940. Another site in Butler Alabama closed it’s doors a couple of years ago.