Monday, December 11, 2017
Business

Paintball company KEE Action Sports closes Clearwater plant, cutting 109 jobs

KEE Action Sports, the biggest maker of paintballs in the world, has closed its Clearwater manufacturing facility and is shipping the bulk of the work to cheaper labor in Asia.

The closure means KEE is laying off 109 of its 110 plant employees, the company said in a mass layoff notice filed with the state Monday. Only one senior executive working there will be relocated.

CEO and president John Robinson said about a third of the production — "high- and mid-grade stuff" using higher quality paint — will be sent to the company's plant in London, Ontario. Most of the work will go to Asia through strategic partnerships with producers in Taiwan and China.

"It was a pure economic decision," Robinson said, citing a "glut in the marketplace" with international manufacturers that didn't exist even a few years ago. "We were just not able to compete."

"As you can imagine, it was a brutal decision to ultimately get to," he added.

KEE Action Sports, which pumps out about 5 billion paintballs a year, is an amalgamation of acquired sporting companies and has a dispersed organizational chart as a result. Its headquarters is in Sewell, N.J., while its CEO is based in Bentonville, Ark., the home of Walmart.

The Clearwater plant at 11399 47th St. N, which has been used by KEE for the last seven years, closed Thursday.

In a letter to the state, Robinson said employees will not be required to report for work unless requested to help decommission the facility. Employees will continue to receive pay and benefits until March 31.

After the layoffs, KEE will have about 170 employees remaining between Canada, a small office in the United Kingdom, and multiple distribution centers around the United States, including nine employees in sales and distribution in Tampa Bay.

Comments
Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan steps off Bloomin’ Brands’ board

Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan steps off Bloomin’ Brands’ board

Chris Sullivan, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, resigned from the board of the restaurant chain’s parent company last Wednesday, according to a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The document, filed by Tampa-based Bloomin’ B...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA — With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
JW Marriott Clearwater Beach project still on target despite some bumps

JW Marriott Clearwater Beach project still on target despite some bumps

CLEARWATER BEACH — While Tampa is excited about its first JW Marriott hotel, plans are moving ahead for a $130 million JW Marriott property on Clearwater Beach, despite some hiccups. "We’ve done really well in our opinion," Uday Lele, developer of t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
HSBC says U.S. will dismiss criminal charges against it

HSBC says U.S. will dismiss criminal charges against it

HSBC said Monday that U.S. authorities were preparing to dismiss criminal charges against the bank, five years after it reached an agreement to avoid prosecution related to lapses in its money-laundering controls.In 2012, the bank, one of the world’s...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Major auto manufacturer offers longer hours, incentives to fix airbags

Major auto manufacturer offers longer hours, incentives to fix airbags

TAMPA — With nearly 200,000 people around Tampa Bay still driving around with defective airbags that could kill them, a major automaker is trying to dramatically cut that number down this week.Fiat Chrystler Automobiles U.S. has launched Airbag Recal...
Updated: 9 hours ago
This 6-year-old kid made $11 million in one year reviewing toys on You Tube

This 6-year-old kid made $11 million in one year reviewing toys on You Tube

When most people think back on the child celebrities of their time, they likely think of child movie actors, the well-trained stars of showbiz. For some, these were stars like Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, or Macaulay Carson Culkin from "Home Alone." F...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ticket-fighting firm hires former Florida Bar president to sue the Bar

Ticket-fighting firm hires former Florida Bar president to sue the Bar

Times Staff WriterWell, this is awkward. A company that is suing the Florida Bar has hired a former Bar president to represent it. Ramon Abadin has joined the legal team of TIKD, a company that expedites the process of fighting traffic tickets in Pin...
Published: 12/11/17
A longer wait: Some now try nearly 3 years to get disability insurance

A longer wait: Some now try nearly 3 years to get disability insurance

By the time Teralyn Fleming could finally plead her case to get federal disability insurance, she had been waiting two years and three months. The wait was not a peaceful one — a blood clotting disorder pushed her out of the workforce in 2015 so she ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa: Hundreds protest Trump’s decision on Jerusalem

Tampa: Hundreds protest Trump’s decision on Jerusalem

TAMPA — Hundreds rallied near the University of South Florida on Friday night to protest President Donald Trump’s recent declaration that the United States will recognize the divided city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.The protest was organize...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Duke outage leaves 7,700 without power near Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — Up to 7,700 customers across Pinellas Park, Lealman and Kenneth City lost power in a Thursday night outage, according to Duke Energy.The outage impacted a cloverleaf-shaped area of customers, with pedals extending in the cardinal dire...
Published: 12/08/17