2010 has been a big year for the Wiregrass. The announcement that Sony would be closing its Dothan facility was one of the most notable stories of the year.
At one time, Sony was one of the largest employers in the Wiregrass. Earlier this year, it was an unfortunate turn when the plant announced it would be shutting its doors after 33 years.
All employees at Dothan’s Sony plant were called to a meeting in February of 2010.
A former Sony employee, Representative Paul Lee said, “Most time we kind of had an idea about what the meeting was about. This time it was not very well known what was going to happen. We were thinking it was going to be another cut, layoff for a few people.”
But it wasn't. Sony announced it would be closing its facility.
“It was a shock, and it was a sad day for a lot of people,” says Lee.
Representative Lee began working at Dothan’s Sony plant in 1979. He was 2 months shy of 31 years at the facility and says his coworkers became more like a family.
“We had a lot of friends there, and we had been able to see their children grow up and then they have children. It was a good time for us that literally grew up working there.”
Established in 1977, the facility began with 55 employees. It jumped to more than 1,000 at its highest and had just over 300 when the announcement was made earlier this year.
During that time technology evolved, and Dothan's plant evolved with it.
“Sony here and the local leadership and the people that work here, they were always ahead of the curve trying to maintain and stay ahead of that technology that's out there. Man, they did a tremendous job, “ says Matt Parker, President of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.
Lee went on to say, “We were known throughout the world whether it was in France or Japan that Sony Dothan would make it happen if you would give us the time to do it with.”
Since the announcement, the city has been looking for someone to purchase this property.
“There are some interested parties looking at the property now, and we are trying to get through that due diligence phase to help them transition and redevelop that property,” says Parker.
Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz added, “Sony was a wonderful partner. We're grateful for their over 30 years. We are looking forward to turning their property into a productive property and just move forward with this.”
The plant will officially close in March 2011. Right now about 10 percent of employees remain.
Mayor Schmitz says the due diligence, the process of looking into the interested company, should be complete in the next 30 days.
No other details have been released about the company, except it's based out of Illinois.