Noble business closing after 30 years

Thursday, December 16th 2004, 9:49 am
By: News On 6

NOBLE, Okla. (AP) -- After more than 30 years producing figurines and collectibles, United Design in Noble plans to close its doors by the end of the month.

The company once employed more than 700 people, but a series of layoffs between 2000 and 2004 reduced its work force to about 40 employees.

Encore Group acquired the company in October. A spokesman for Encore says as of January First, about nine jobs with the company will remain local.

The company's products will soon be made in China and sold out of North Carolina, making the Noble plant obsolete.

The company was founded in 1973 by Gary and Jeanie Clinton, who started with a single kiln in a backyard chicken coop.

At its peak, the company's work force averaged about 750 employees who did everything from designing, manufacturing and painting the products to marketing and shipping