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A growing fixture in Corning: Darling Store Fixtures increases plant by 63,000 SF.

Corning's largest manufacturing plant continues to grow.

Darling Store Fixtures, which employs more than 700 people, recently completed a 63,000-SF addition, bringing its facility to about 545,000 SF.

The Corning facility is one of three northeast Arkansas manufacturing plants for Darling Store Fixtures.

Paragould is the base for the division as well as the parent company, L.A. Darling Co.

Corning and Paragould produce metal works. The fixtures division also has a 330,000-SF plant in Piggott producing wood fixtures.

A 125,000-SF warehouse was built seven years ago in Pocahontas to serve as a consolidating and shipping facility. The four facilities total nearly 1.6 million SF. The company employs about 2,000.

Corning's new structure, completed in July, links two existing buildings. The new building is being used primarily for storage. That frees space in the main building, which contains the production equipment, to make all metal shelving for Darling.

"This latest expansion represents a significant investment in service to our customers," says Kent Toomey, president of Darling Store Fixtures. "These improvements are in line with our commitment to quality and increased production to satisfy our customers' growing needs.

"Our continuing growth as a company also is a tribute to the quality of the workforce in northeast Arkansas. Our progress is made possible by the dedication of our associates."

The Corning plant also underwent some recent personnel changes.

A.R. McDonald was promoted from manufacturing and engineering manager to plant manager. McDonald joined Darling in May 1990. He previously worked for Skil Corp. as manufacturing engineering manager and for Tappan Appliance Division as industrial supervisor.

Murray Therrell moved from his quality engineer position at Darling's Paragould facility to Corning as quality assurance manager. And Lonnie Helton, manufacturing engineer at Paragould, is now Corning's engineering manager.

Dealing In Large Volume

Darling manufactures custom-design, retail-store fixtures -- primarily shelves and racks in metal, wood and wire. Darling deals mostly in large volume sales and is a supplier to many top retail companies in the country. The company has sales representatives in 13 cities across the country, from Boston to Sacramento.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, is one of Darling's bigger customers.

"Our customers based in Arkansas are representative of a broad range of companies we do business with," says David Dees, company spokesman.

In addition to Wal-Mart, Darling makes custom-design racks for Dillard Department Stores Inc. and custom-design displays for Maybelline Co.

Also, an example of Darling's production can be found in, of all places, the Little Rock Zoo's souvenir shop. The company donated the shelves and racks to the zoo after the shop was constructed.

L.A. "Lou" Darling bought Ideal Fixture Co. of Coldwater, Mich., in 1912. The Marmon Group, an international association of more than 60 autonomous manufacturing and service companies with annual sales of nearly $4 billion, purchased L.A. Darling Co. in 1960.

Darling began manufacturing metal shelving in Paragould in 1965 and moved all operations from Michigan to Arkansas in 1968. The Corning plant was built in 1970.
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Title Annotation:Across Arkansas: Northeast
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 28, 1992
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