Great Dane Trailers plans to close its original manufacturing facility in Savannah, Ga., effective Jan. 9, 2009.

The effect of the extended economic downturn on the transportation industry coupled with the need for more efficient production, are the key factors behind the decision to close the refrigerated trailer plant.

"It's a sad day for us. A lot of family and friends are affected," said Phillip Pines, chief operating officer of Great Dane Limited Partnership. "This plant has remained pivotal in the history of our company. Its closing is no reflection on the caliber of the people or their work. We have simply exhausted the ability of this plant to produce refrigerated trailers at a competitive price."

Built in 1919 for the expanding Savannah Blowpipe Company, the Savannah plant would soon become the starting ground for the first Great Dane trailers. The first Great Dane trailer ever built was assembled at the Savannah manufacturing plant in 1930. This plant produced the first-ever factory-finished refrigerated trailer.

Plans for replacing this capacity are under way. "This move is necessary to meet customer expectations, while being price competitive," said Pines. "Advancements in technology, both in the design and production of trailers, have placed increased demands on manufacturing. The addition of a modernized facility will help maintain Great Dane's position as the leader in the refrigerated trailer market."

Approximately 270 plant hourly and office employees will be affected by this closing. The corporate office in Savannah will not be affected by the plant closing.

Until a new plant is established, the Savannah plant's production will be transferred to Great Dane's two other refrigerated plants located in Wayne, Neb., and Brazil, Ind.