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UPS strike has domino effect on businesses

August 13, 1997

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

Foltz Manufacturing and Industrial Supply Co. in Hagerstown was still waiting Wednesday for $5,000 to $7,000 worth of cutting tools shipped before United Parcel Service went on strike Aug. 4.

"We have no idea when we're going to get those," said owner Tim Foltz.

There is a domino effect for customers of companies like Foltz, which orders parts for emergency breakdowns at local manufacturers, Foltz said.

The strike is bearing down on Tri-State area businesses that depend on timely deliveries, owners said.

Other area businesses say the strike has had an annoying, but not crippling, effect.

A UPS package truck used to stop by BBS Jewelers in Greencastle, Pa., every day for pickups and deliveries.

Now, owner Lisa Smith makes a daily run to the local post office with her four-packages limit.

The post office's "Priority Mail" is a little more expensive than UPS, but her packages have actually been arriving at their destinations faster, she said.

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Other businesses have been scrambling to move products.

"Shipments are moving, but at a snail's pace," said Marcia McKnight, shipping manager at Action Products in Hagerstown, the sole worldwide manufacturer of medical equipment that prevents bedsores.

Because of the strike, the company has a 200-box backlog she said.

"It's drastically taking its toll," she said.

A woman who is trying to open a retail flower shop in Fayetteville, Pa., can't even get the catalogs she needs to order stock for a planned Sept. 15 opening, said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Development Corp.

"They're concerned they're not going to be able to hit that date because of the strike," he said.

Jackie Leimbach, a Mary Kay Cosmetics sales director in Halfway, said if the strike continues much longer she'll be forced to rent a van and pick up the products herself at the company's New Jersey distribution center.

Leimbach, thanks to a Mary Kay consultant who works in UPS management, was able to retrieve a shipment that got stuck in the system when the strike began, she said.

"I went over and crossed the picket lines in my pink car," she said.

UPS managers have slowly been trying to deliver the packages in its system, officials have said.

Meanwhile, other carriers say they are doing the best they can to handle UPS packages.

Federal Express Corp. has limited its incoming packages, especially to those who were not regular customers before the strike.

The Hagerstown FedEx center closes at 5 p.m., but McKnight said customers who don't get there early in the morning are out of luck.

Customers are told the center can only accept 95 packages a day at its counter, McKnight said. Local FedEx officials referred questions to its national headquarters in Memphis, Tenn.

The strike has been a wash for Pony Mailbox and Business Center in Hagerstown, said owner Jay Bidle.

While Pony Mailbox has lost some business, it also has gained new customers, mostly small business operators who drop off packages there while they aren't getting a regular UPS visit.

Hub City Express, which delivers packages within 200 miles of Hagerstown, has seen a slight increase in people calling to ask about prices, said Vice President Debbie Nicodemus.

Several striking UPS workers also have asked about working there temporarily, she said.

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