Norm Thompson leaving W.Va.

July 13, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - An Oregon-based men's and women's apparel company that operates a distribution center in Jefferson County where about 150 people work in full-time and part-time positions has decided to move the facility to northwestern Pennsylvania in May 2008, company and local officials said Thursday.

Employees at the Norm Thompson Outfitters plant in the Burr Industrial Park in Bardane, W.Va., were informed about the move Tuesday, said Sarah Bochynski, director of human resources for the company.

The employees will be offered a financial incentive to move to Irvine, Pa., or they will be offered a severance package if they do not choose to move, Bochynski said.

Irvine is about a six-hour drive from Jefferson County, Bochynski said.

Norm Thompson's move out of the area was mentioned by Jane Peters during a Jefferson County Commission meeting Thursday morning.

Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority, said a lot of work went into luring Norm Thompson to Jefferson County, and former Gov. Gaston Caperton was involved in the effort.


"Nobody's more upset about it than I am," Peters told the commission.

Peters said Norm Thompson was acquired by a San Francisco-based investment group around April of last year. The San Francisco firm is working to get a new tenant for the local Norm Thompson facility, Bochynski said.

Norm Thompson has a sister company called Blair Corp., which runs an advanced distribution center in Irvine, Bochynski said. Moving the local Norm Thompson operations to that facility will allow the company to greatly improve its operations, Bochynski said.

"It's a move that makes very sound business sense," Bochynski said in a telephone interview from Norm Thompson's corporate office.

As a financial incentive to move to Irvine, employees are being offered two month's worth of wages, Bochynski said. Local workers who do not want to move may take a severance package, the benefits of which are based on an employees' position and tenure, Bochynski said.

Norm Thompson has 600 to 800 "seasonal" employees locally who work during the company's busy season around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those employees will not be offered any of the packages, Bochynski said.

Norm Thompson sells clothing and outdoor gear through catalogs, a Web site and in stores.

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