01STOCK_JANESVILLE_WATERTOWER

JANESVILLE

Build-it-yourself backyard playground equipment company Swing-N-Slide plans to close its Janesville manufacturing facility later this year, according to a government-required notice issued Tuesday afternoon.

According to a notice Swing-N-Slide’s parent company Backyard Products filed Tuesday through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Swing-N-Slide will close its location at 1212 Barberry Drive later this year.

The closure means layoffs for 23 employees at Swing-N-Slide, which has operated in Janesville under various parent companies since 1986. The layoffs would begin in July or August as Swing-N-Slide winds down operations, Backyard Products wrote in the notice. Closure of the Janesville facility will likely be by November, according to the notice.

Swing-N-Slide makes build-your-own wooden backyard play systems, play forts and other products. Backyard Products, a Monroe, Michigan-based recreational equipment and storage shed maker, bought Swing-N-Slide in 2013. Before that, Swing-N-Slide had been owned for about a dozen years by Tennessee-based PlayCore, a subsidiary of private equity firm Irving Place Capital.

Swing-N-Slide initially was an offshoot of Newco Welding and Engineering, which was founded in Janesville in 1979.

Janesville’s Swing-N-Slide location is one of two manufacturing facilities Backyard Products operates in the Midwest. The company runs a 200,000 square-foot manufacturing site in Monroe, Michigan.

In the notice, signed by Backyard Products CEO Thomas van der Meulen, the company did not indicate why it is closing the Janesville plant. A human resources official for Backyard Products did not immediately respond late Tuesday afternoon to a request for comment.

The planned Swing-N-Slide closure comes after local rival Playstar expanded its distribution space in Janesville. The two play set makers market their products at big-box stores.

Backyard Products trumpeted its purchase of Swing-N-Slide in 2013 by saying it was committed to manufacturing outdoor play equipment and other products at U.S. manufacturing facilities.

At the time, Backyard Products said it was bucking a trend among other wood play equipment makers who were moving manufacturing to China.

Backyard Products has in the last few years branched out into shed manufacturing with the acquisition of Studio Shed, a company that makes prefabricated consumer sheds designed to add residential studio space.

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