As operations wind down at Daikin North America’s Goodman plant here in Fayetteville, The Times took a look at the manufacturing facility’s 50-plus years in the community.
On Dec. 15, 1967 an agreement between the City of Fayetteville and Amana Refrigeration, Inc. was signed which assured the company would build a large plant in the city. In 1968, the agreement was signed by then Mayor I.C. Pullias and firmed up Amana’s intention to locate its air conditioning manufacturing facility in Lincoln County.
On Dec. 27 of that year, Fayetteville voters approved the issuance of $12 million in revenue bonds for the Amana plant, allowing for expansion in the future.
City officials signed agreements to set up financing for the project. Mayor Pullias, City Attorney Tom Bagley and City Clerk Ed Payne flew to New York City to sign contracts with the bonding agency, Morgan Stanley & Co.
On Jan. 11, 1968, site preparation began for the Amana Plant.
Later, in the March 7, 1968 edition of The Elk Valley Times and Observer, it was reported that the Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen formally passed resolutions which paved the way for the construction of a huge Amana Refrigeration, Inc., plant in Fayetteville in which air conditioners would be manufactured.
Among the resolutions passed was one which called for issuance of $5.3 million in revenue bonds to be used in the initial construction of the plant. Another was to accept a construction contract with Fite & Warmath Construction Co. to build the plant itself, which would cost about $1,860,000.
In the April 18, 1968 edition of the Lincoln County News, Jesse J. Barnes is named personnel director by Amana. Keith Houser would be the first manager of the Fayetteville Amana plant.
Amana announced that it would begin making air conditioners in Fayetteville by Sept. 15, 1968.
Job applications were being taken at Amana’s temporary office located on Washington St. East and plans were to begin work initially with about 400 employees.
In the June 27, 1968 edition of the Lincoln County News, it was reported that Amana Refrigeration, Inc., a subsidiary of Raytheon, Inc., hosted 148 people, including local businessmen, local and state officials and others, at a luncheon held at the American Legion Building the previous Friday.
The guests represented the county court, city board of aldermen, public officials, businessmen and community leaders. It was an informal gathering, hosted by top officials of Amana, to get acquainted, according to George Foerstner, Amana president.
Foerstner outlined the aims and desires of the Amana Corporation as related to the plant in Fayetteville and gave an update of the progress on the plant. Site preparation for the plant began on Jan. 11, 1968.
In the July 10, 1968 edition of The Elk Valley Times and Observer, Houser reported that the work was well underway on the plant and that more employees will be needed by early 1969. The article reads, “The plant is rising on a 50-acre tract, and an option was obtained for an additional 10 acres.”
Amana agreed to purchase 10 additional acres at $1,500 per acre in the Fayetteville Industrial Park for expansion of the Amana building, made necessary when the company entered the heating field.
The Aug. 8, 1968 edition of The Times announced that Amana will start expansion of the 40,000-foot addition to the Amana plant to meet a January schedule for the manufacture of heating units as well as air conditioners. The addition to the 250,000-square foot building planned for the manufacture of air conditioners of various sizes could be made without a slowdown in construction.
Amana officials planned for furnace production to begin by 1969. Houser said when the company reached peak production sometime in the spring, some 80 additional workers would be added to Amana’s payroll.
In the Dec. 12, 1968 edition of the EVT, a tour of the Amana plant open to the public was announced and a special edition in the newspaper about Fayetteville Amana was released.
On Dec. 15, 1968 an open house was held at Amana with over 2,000 Lincoln Countians braving the bitter cold to see the new plant. Visitors were free to roam the plant where they were amazed at the Radarange, Amana’s miracle oven, which cooked cupcakes in one minute, and other dishes with comparable speed.
A couple of days later, the Lincoln County News reported that Gov. Buford Ellington and President George Foerstner of Amana would perform the ribbon cutting rites for the new plant.
At the ribbon cutting, Gov. Ellington announced that work on the by-pass would begin immediately. The extended perimeter highway around the city would extend from Huntsville Highway at the north end of the new bridge across Elk River to U.S. Highway 64 East (Winchester Hwy.).
In late December 1968 CFW Construction Co. began site preparation for the new addition for furnace production on the east side of the main structure. The Crane Company was obtained by Amana after construction was begun on the new building. When fully completed, the plant would encompass 303,000 square feet of manufacturing space and employ more than 400 people in the initial stages.
Foerstner announced that the Fayetteville plant would be the first in the United States manufacturing air conditioners in a plant that would be completely air conditioned itself.
Besides making its own air conditioning units, Amana also manufactured units for six or seven other companies. Between 30 and 40 carloads of air conditioners were being manufactured and shipped to West Germany by Amana each year. And many units would be sold throughout the world.
Following Amana’s opening of the new plant, in The Elk Valley Times and Observer’s special edition on Dec. 12, 1968, numerous local government and businesses congratulated the company, including well-wishers from the City of Fayetteville, Fayetteville Gas Company, Billy Cheatham’s Furniture House, Bank of Lincoln County, Dairy Queen, Milan Decorators, Fite & Warmath Construction Co., CFW Construction, Clark Equipment Co., and many others.