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Grove lays off 290 more workers

January 19, 2001

Grove lays off 290 more workers



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


SHADY GROVE, Pa. - Grove Worldwide announced another major layoff Friday. At 290 workers it is the largest in a year-long series of cutbacks that has reduced the crane maker's workforce to about 1,400 workers.

When the decade started the company had upwards of 2,500 workers.

Friday's layoffs, which are expected to be permanent, affect hourly and salaried employees primarily in manufacturing and support jobs, according to a letter sent to all employees from Jeffrey D. Bust, chairman and chief executive officer at Grove.

Bust said in the letter that Friday's layoffs conclude the restructuring of Grove's aerial manlift business and should be the last scheduled at Shady Grove, its main plant and world headquarters.

"It is unfortunate that the efforts to insure the ability of Grove to compete in the marketplace have taken this great a toll in terms of employees, but such actions are necessary in today's competitive environment," Bust said in the letter.

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He said reduced demands for cranes and aerial work platforms contributed to the need for the layoffs. He also cited improved productivity from new automated painting and welding processes at Shady Grove.

Layoffs in the last year have affected workers across the board, from plant laborers to top executives.

Grove's aerial manlift operations have been closed down except for one or two product lines involving boom lifts, according to Martin King, an industry analyst for Standard and Poor's in New York City, which has been rating Grove since the spring of 1998.

King said a softening of the construction industry market is also affecting Grove, which makes heavy-duty cranes. That plus competitors who are making cranes faster and cheaper has forced Grove to redesign its own production methods, which should help the company compete, King said.

"They still have a way to go to work themselves out of their financial problems," King said.

Grove's credit rating, which has dropped to A- has failed to improve, King said. It's current bond rating is triple C, he said.

L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, said his agency is dedicated to helping the 800 plus workers who lost jobs in the Grove cutbacks.

A day-long, Tri-State area jobs fair with dozens of prospective employers expected to participate, will be held in Chambersburg, Pa., Feb. 1 at 9 a.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church's all purpose room at 750 Norland Ave.

Ross said the morning session will be dedicated to laid-off Grove workers. The fair is being sponsored by Grove, Team Pennsylvania CareerLink, an all-inclusive employment services center at 600 Norland Ave., and Ross' agency, among others.

"We're all aware of the actions being taken today at Grove, and while all indications are that it will be the last one, it's been very painful for Grove to reach a stable employment level," Ross said. "It's a difficult time for individuals and their families."

He said his agency is working with the state to secure job-training and equipment purchase loans for Grove.

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