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JLG to lay off 850 employees

July 30, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - JLG Industries will lay off 850 employees, roughly 30 percent of its work force, in September, the company said Wednesday.

The company, Fulton County's largest employer with more than 2,500 workers, also is closing a production facility in Fort Littleton, Pa., nine miles north of McConnellsburg, according to Demi Hetrick, director of JLG corporate relations.

That plant employs fewer than 100 people, she said.

JLG, which makes aerial work platforms, will move the manufacturing work for all its vertical lift products to the McConnellsburg plant, which also is the company's headquarters, Hetrick said.

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The layoffs are a result of a "temporary over-saturation of product in the marketplace," Hetrick said. They will take place between Sept. 8-19, according to a letter given to workers three weeks ago.

It has not been determined from which plants the layoffs will occur or how long the furloughs will last, Hetrick said.

"This situation is not going to work itself out overnight," she said.

In addition to the McConnellsburg plant and headquarters and the Fort Littleton facility, JLG operates a small equipment services facility in downtown McConnellsburg and two scissor-lift manufacturing plants in Bedford, Pa., which employ about 600 people.

A company-wide plant shutdown is planned for two weeks in August to adjust production and inventory levels, Hetrick said.

Local officials are concerned but not unprepared, because JLG announced its plans to lay off workers earlier this month, although it would not say how many were involved.

"Any time a company loses 30 percent of its workforce it's a significant hit," said Margaret Taylor, executive director of the Fulton Industrial Development Corporation.

With the advance notice, JLG employees hopefully are taking steps to get through the upcoming plant shutdowns and layoffs, Taylor said.

The state is making plans to provide retraining and job placement services to JLG employees through its dislocated worker office, Taylor said.

"That's a huge layoff," said Michael Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corporation.

JLG employs hundreds of workers from Franklin County and subcontracts a lot of work to machine shops and other businesses in the region, Ross said.

"Obviously it's a situation we're going to be watching closely," he said.

The layoffs and plant closings are part of a restructuring to get back on track next year after the company's earnings-per-share for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1997, which ends today, came in below expectations, according to a company statement.

The company expects to post record results for fiscal year 1997.

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's 28-year history.

The disappointing fourth-quarter results follow four years of record growth are due to fewer orders and tougher competition, said L. David Black, chairman, president, and corporate executive officer of JLG.

Although the company anticipates better performance next year, it doesn't expect sales to top this year's record level, officials said.

The company said its goals include accelerating new product development, enhancing customer support services and expanding its international market.

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