By Donna Thornton/News Editor
“This is the icing on the cake,” Goodyear Communications Manager Jackie Brehm Edmonson said, of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company winning Manufacturer of the Year, large division, in the same year that the plant celebrates its 85th anniversary. Goodyear was a finalist for the award two previous years.
Back Forty Beer Company, in business since 2011, is a different story. Jason Wilson’s company won Manufacturer of the Year, small division, on its first time as a finalist.
It was a great showing by Gadsden manufacturers, Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton said.
“There was a lot of competition,” he said. “But this just goes to show what we’ve got going on in Gadsden. Economic development is working.”
Goodyear Director Gordon Linkous praised the plant leadership team and the Local 12 for the plant’s success. And he said the community that nurtured employee families and made them want to be in Gadsden played a role in the plant’s fortunes.
“In 1929, Gadsden was selected as the site of the South’s very first tire manufacturing plant because of its abundance of land, water and manpower,” Linkous said in his acceptance speech. “After 85 years of manufacturing excellence, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is still an important economic force not only in Etowah County but in the entire state of Alabama.”
Wilson said Back Forty Beer’s win was a great honor. He said at the awards ceremony, when the “emerging company” award was presented and there was talk of its $600 million investment he thought, “We’re in the wrong room.
“Who would have thought a brewery in Alabama would win an award?” Wilson said.
He expressed appreciation for those who helped bring the brewery to life. Among them was Lesa Osborn, the first person Wilson talked to about the potential.
“The mayor was concerned,” Wilson joked, “but very supportive.”
Both company leaders thanked The Chamber, Gadsden-Etowah County President Heather New for nominating their companies, and New praised both companies for being good corporate citizens.
“Goodyear’s longevity has been and continues to be a hallmark of our economy,” New said of the large division winner.
“Back Forty has exhibited exponential advancement since opening in 2011 with innovative and energetic leadership at its helm,” New said.
“Employment, production and geographic range of distribution has taken giant leaps, and the company continues to show phenomenal promise for additional prosperity,” she said.