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Grove lays off more workers

July 20, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Grove Worldwide laid off about 125 workers at its Shady Grove crane manufacturing plant Friday.

It was the latest in a series of layoffs that began about three years ago and has left Franklin County's largest private employer with a work force of approximately 1,000 people.

Company officials, who blamed the layoffs on lower demand for the company's mobile hydraulic crane and aerial work platform products, said there are no plans to move the Shady Grove operation.

Managers, office workers, production workers and operations support workers were all affected by the Friday's permanent job cuts, the company said in a prepared statement.

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"Competitive pressures are intense as sales opportunities remain suppressed," Chairman and CEO Jeffry D. Bust said. "Construction equipment markets are cyclic and we are in the low part of the cycle."

Sales, which normally peak at this time of year, are off significantly from historical levels, the company said. The company did not provide sales figures.

Despite the layoffs and the slump in sales, Grove's market share continues to improve. Grove makes half of all the cranes sold in North America and about 20 percent of those sold in Europe, said John T. McGeehan, vice president of human resources.

Grove has improved the plant's efficiency and continued to train its workers to position itself for sales when the market rebounds, he said.

Grove is still on track to merge with the Manitowoc Co. of Manitowoc, Wis., in August, McGeehan said.

Grove began a series of layoffs about three years ago. Friday's layoffs were the second round this year. In February, the company laid off 70 employees.

Economic development officials are optimistic the company will rebound when the market improves, although it may never have a work force of 2,500 people as it had about six years ago.

"Once the market conditions improve, the conditions at Shady Grove will improve drastically," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

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