JLG plans layoffs

July 11, 1997


Staff Writer

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - JLG Industries Inc., Fulton County's largest employer with more than 2,000 workers, announced plans this week for a major layoff later this summer.

The layoffs, the result of a sharp decline in orders for JLG's hydraulic equipment, will take place between Sept. 8-19, according to a letter given to workers this week. Work hours also will be reduced before then.

"Most of our employees are employed specifically to build equipment, and we cannot afford to continue to produce equipment that the market does not need. It's important to the long term health of JLG to protect our assets," a part of the letter said.


The letter, dated July 8, did not say how many employees would be affected, nor did it indicate how long the layoffs would last.

Company officials were not available for comment Friday. A security guard at the plant gate would not allow a Herald-Mail reporter to interview employees as they headed home for the weekend.

Down the street at the C&B Lounge, one JLG employee said rumors of a layoff had been active for months, as workers assumed demand for the company's product was lessening.

JLG makes aerial platforms that lift workers to elevated work areas. Products include boom, scissor and vertical lifts, named for the methods in which they expand to their heights. They are sold in a worldwide market.

The employee, who did not want to be named, said he was seeing work orders being filled a week ahead of schedule during the spring - a sign that sales were lagging. A layoff seemed inevitable, he said.

"I've known it for a while," he said between sips from a beer.

He said he probably will be laid off because he has only been with the company for two years. The letter informed employees that most of the layoffs will be based on seniority.

He said JLG provides good-paying jobs with great benefits.

"They're a good company to work for," he said.

For most of the 1990s, JLG has been a symbol of booming growth, increasing to its current workforce from about 500 in 1990. In addition to the McConnellsburg plant and headquarters, the company also has plants in Fort Littleton and Bedford, for a total of about 2,500 employees.

JLG's growth also has been felt in the surrounding community. An 8.2 percent jump in per capita income in Fulton County from 1993 to 1994 - the most recent figures available - was attributed by local officials mostly to JLG.

In January, the company broke ground on a $12 million, 157,000-square-foot expansion in McConnellsburg that would bring county workforce to more than 2,200.

And as recently as May, the company reported record financial figures. During the first three months of the year sales were $143.6 million - the highest in any quarter in the company in its 28-year history. However, company officials expressed some concern over a "softness" in domestic orders.

In the letter given to employees, the company said many of its distributors have indicated they will limit further investments in JLG's types of products over the next several months, turned away from purchases by sufficient existing inventories and fears of a recession in the market.

When the decision is made as to which employees will be laid off, supervisors will personally meet with those workers, the letter said. The laid-off workers will be given a prepared handout regarding company benefits and enrollment instructions for unemployment compensation.

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