Companies can't buck deer season

November 24, 1997

Companies can't buck deer season


Staff Writer

Each year for the 20 years he has worked at Mellott Enterprises Inc., Ron Clark has taken vacation time to go deer hunting.

"It's a very important part of my life," said Clark, 37, a field service manager for the Warfordsburg, Pa.-based quarry equipment business.

He has plenty of company. Next week Mellott Enterprises and its sister firm, quarry-owner H.B. Mellott Estate Inc., will nearly shut down their operations when more than 200 of the companies' 260 workers take time off to hunt deer.


"We basically tell our customers that Pennsylvania's buck season is the week after Thanksgiving, so count on us not working that week," said Paul C. Mellott Jr., president and CEO of H.B. Mellott Estate.

As deer season begins in the parts of the Tri-State area this week, several businesses are preparing, in various ways, for a temporary loss of thousands of employees in the coming days and weeks.

Firearms hunting season began Monday in West Virginia and will start in Maryland on Saturday. But several local employers said the real impact on workers won't be felt until next Monday, when firearms deer season starts in Pennsylvania.

On that day, employees at the Rayloc auto parts plant in Hancock will be given an "optional work day" to take off for hunting or other personal business, said Plant Manager Dave Watters.

Watters said the plant usually tries to limit time off to 15 percent of its 492-person work force, but raises that to 50 percent for the hunting day. He estimates the plant will have close to that percentage of workers off the job next Monday.

"The thing is, we know it is going to happen, so why fight it?" he said.

Watters said any production loss for the one day is made up within a week.

"We don't lose anything," he said.

JLG Industries Inc. in McConnellsburg, Pa., traditionally has closed its 1,300-employee plant for the entire week, said company director of corporate relations Demi Hetrick. The only people on hand are a skeleton crew of managers, office staff and some other workers,

"It wouldn't make sense (to stay open), so that's why we have the shutdown," Hetrick said.

Mellott said he used to completely shut down, but has enough workers to maintain some production at distant sites, although all of its local quarry operations will cease next week.

He said he spent Monday trying to figure out where to use the available employees for the week.

"It takes a lot of creative shuffling," Mellott said.

Despite the moves, he said he has no problem with his employees taking off en masse. He said it is much better for them to take vacation this time of year, when the construction businesses served by the quarries slow down, than to be out a lot of time in the summer.

Kevin Brown, personnel director for the General Motors Services Parts Operation center near Martinsburg, W.Va., said there are "plenty of hunters" working at the 930-employee plant, but not enough are taking off work to cause any production problems.

Brown said the plant routinely hires temporary workers each year - about 50 this year - to fill in for the time lost to hunting and holidays.

"It hasn't negatively impacted our operation," he said,

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