Coleman executives’ departure to Colorado didn’t last long.
The outdoor recreational equipment manufacturer is shutting down the office in Golden, Colo., and laying off 54 people by the end of February, according to Tom Sanford, spokesman for Newell Brands, Coleman’s corporate parent.
But the corporate jobs aren’t returning to Wichita as they did the last time company executives left for Colorado, in the 1990s. Newell Brands will fold management of the Coleman product line into its Chicago-based beverage-ware businesses. About 26 Coleman employees are being offered jobs elsewhere in Newell.
The good news for Wichita is that the consolidation leaves the operation at 3600 N. Hydraulic untouched, Sanford said.
Coleman was founded in 1901 in Wichita and was once considered one of the city’s iconic names, but today has far less of a community presence.
Coleman was owned by the Coleman family until 1989, when it was wrested away by financier Ron Perelman in a hostile takeover. His CEO, Michael Hammes, built the $4.5 million headquarters near Golden in suburban Denver in 1995 and moved the company’s executives there.
But after losing money, Hammes was fired and the headquarters returned to Wichita in 1997.
Since then the company has gone through three ownership changes, each time becoming part of a bigger company. In 2011, a new CEO, Robert Marcovitch, again moved executives to the building near Golden, saying that the new location would allow the company to recruit better. Jefferson County, Colo., helped lure the company back with cash and tax incentives.
In 2016, Newell Rubbermaid bought Jarden Corp. and started looking for places to cut costs.
Although once the heart of the company, Coleman’s workforce in Wichita has continued to shrink because of outsourcing, automation and the globalization of production.
Coleman employed 1,450 in Wichita in 1995, when executives first left for Colorado. That was down to 1,040 when Jarden CEO Martin Franklin visited in 2004 vowing corporate stability for the new acquisition.
In 2011, when Marcovitch moved Coleman’s executive team a second time, the Wichita plant had about 800 workers.
Today, Sanford said, the Wichita facility has 575 full-time people.