In a domino effect, layoffs at big vehicle makers Caterpillar Inc. and John Deere have driven a Rochester manufacturer to layoff 68 workers.
“We’re certainly disappointed that we couldn’t work our way through this with all of our people, but you have to be conservative as you move forward,” says Crenlo President Lance Fleming.
Crenlo is a contract manufacturer that makes products such as cabs from sheet metal, steel frames for construction and agricultural vehicles. It has 670 employees at two facilities in Rochester.
Fleming announced the layoffs at an employee meeting Tuesday. They will take effect Jan. 12.
The action follows last week’s announcement that Crenlo’s two top customers – Caterpillar and John Deere – were laying off 20,000 and 7,000 employees. Crenlo had already been working some four day works to adjust to the slowdown.
“I told the employees, ‘Our order book is down. I told you after two months of short work weeks that we’d do something different if we had to,’” he said.
Affected employees have 18 month recall rights, says Dave Zebaugh, the president of the United Auto Workers Local 2125. He also confirmed reports that 68 workers were effected.
However, the future looks hopeful.
Some contracts for new products slated to start late in the second quarter and into the third quarter of 2009 could bring at least some of those workers back into Crenlo.
“We’re optimistic that some of the people will be called back, because of the new business development coming in,” said Fleming.
How does the union see the action?
“The U.A.W. is standing behind the company. They did it right by the contract as far as the layoffs,” stated Zebaugh. “They are just doing what they can do to retain as many as they can.”
While unpleasant, the action was not unexpected, he added.
“The writing has been on the wall. He (Fleming) didn’t want to layoff. He didn’t want to resort to this, but if there is no demand, you have to do something, said Zebaugh.
The majority of employees support Fleming and the company in this, because Crenlo “does have a recovery plan in progress.”
The company, owned by the New York-based Dover Corp., did a number of layoffs total more than 200 in 2001. As the economy improved, Crenlo brought many of the employees back on board and the company gained strength.
“We came back then and we should come back from this,” said Zebaugh.