The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

June 28, 2012

Long Manufacturing reduced to scattered piles of rubble

TARBORO — What took decades to build was torn down in less than 90 days, save the former corporate office of Long Manufacturing.

Advanced Demolition and Recycling of Raleigh is in the final stages of scavenging the property — with a backhoe operating near the rear gate on Cedar Street and digging up long-rusted pieces of rail.

No longer useful for an active rail spur, the heavy steel will fetch a pretty penny.

Rogers, Ark.-based Montana Tractors purchased the facility in November 2008 for $14.1 million and now pays taxes on a property assessed at $1,399,979.

Now that the buildings have been torn down, all that stands between Montana Tractor and the tax savings on $1,141,379 in assessed bulding value is a property reassessment.

The dismantling of the property has been so thorough that a Montana sign located near the corner of Fairview and Main was removed — but the FarmTrac sign it covered was left behind.

At one time, as recently as the 1970s, the company founded by William “Bill” Long, employed 1,100 workers in Tarboro and another 400 in Davenport, Iowa, but times got tough down on the farm.

By 1980, with the plight of the American farmer in what looked to be a death spiral at the time, employment dropped to 750 and then, by the time four creditors filed a petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court asking the company be placed in bankruptcy, the workforce was down to 400.

Long emerged from bankruptcy in 1987 and became Long Agribusiness and in 1998, was purchased by the Escorts Group of Faridabad, India. Escorts was a leading engineering conglomerate that focused on agrimachinery, construction and material handling equipment, railway equipment and automobile components.

Escorts dropped the Long name in favor of Farmtrac.

In January 2008, Farmtrac officials told employees the operation was being temporarily shut down.

Alton Cobb, Jr., vice president and CFO of Farmtrac North America, said employees were being sent home for two to three weeks “while we get some clarity” on the future of some 180 workers at the facility.

Prior to that, Montana’s name had begun to surface with regularity as the firm noted in January 2006 that it had purchased 80 acres of land in Tarboro. Also, Montana announced it had presented a letter of intent to purchase a minority stake in the company that owned 51 percent of Farmtrac.

In January 2009, Montana Tractors purchased Farmtrac and in November 2010, announced it was shuttering its Tarboro facility effective Dec. 24.

The peak employment for the company in Tarboro is thought to have been around 35 persons.


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