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Rayloc plans to lay off 260 workers

Hancock plant to cease production

Hancock plant to cease production

January 15, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HANCOCK ? Rayloc announced plans Tuesday to lay off 260 employees at its Hancock plant effective March 17, according to a letter distributed to employees.

The automotive part remanufacturing plant will cease production, retaining only a limited number of salaried personnel and about 25 employees for sorting, repacking and overstocking positions, according to the letter signed by Rayloc President Rick Borman.

News of the layoffs sent a sense of panic through the town of about 1,700, where Rayloc has long been the largest and strongest employer, Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said.

"This is such devastating news, I'm still kind of reeling from it," Murphy said by phone Tuesday evening, just hours after hearing about the layoffs.

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The decision to end production at the plant was necessary for the company to remain competitive and profitable, Borman said in the letter.

Company officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Rayloc was the 16th largest employer in Washington County with 373 employees as of December 2006, according to a survey by the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

The layoffs will affect two officials and managers, seven clerical and administrative employees, 16 supervisors and 235 production employees, the letter said.

Company to provide severance pay

A Rayloc manager contacted Hancock Police Chief T.J. Buskirk just before 4 p.m. Tuesday to let him know the company was bringing in extra security before making the anouncement, Murphy said. Buskirk said the announcement and the end of the shift passed without incident.

The company will provide severance pay based on tenure to full-time employees who remain with the company until March 17, according to information distributed with the letter.

"This is going to trickle down to our entire community," Murphy said. "There are people in situations where they may have mortgages and not a lot of options in our community to go to. It's not like there's 300-something jobs sitting in Hancock waiting for people."

Rayloc will be the third major employer to leave Hancock in recent years. The town is still reeling from the 2005 closure of Fleetwood Travel Trailers, which lost the town almost 300 jobs, Murphy said. In 1994, the town lost more than 300 jobs when London Fog shut down its Hancock coat factory.

"This poor community has been hit so many times, this is just kind of a final blow," said Deborah Cohill, executive director of the Interfaith Service Coalition, a social service outreach organization that helped residents through the previous layoffs.

Town will lose Rayloc's community involvement

The town's food bank was already at an all-time low, but the organization plans to dig deep to help families hurt by the closure.

"We have folks now who are hardworking families that are going to have trouble paying their rent and their electric bills," Cohill said.

The town will also suffer from the loss of Rayloc's community involvement, including holiday donations for needy families and large contributions to the United Way, which helps fund the ISC, Murphy said.

Rayloc has been what allowed the town's volunteer fire company and rescue squad to exist through an arrangement that allows employees to leave work to volunteer, Murphy said.

"Without that, we'd be hard pressed to have the manpower to do it," he said.

As it did following the closure of Fleetwood, the ISC plans to offer resumé assistance and scour the Sunday papers for job opportunities to pass along to people who are out of work, she said.

"Ultimately, with Fleetwood, many of those folks are able to look back now and reflect and say they've ended up better off because they've moved on to jobs that they wouldn't have even considered," Cohill said. "But at the time you're going through it, it's just tragic."

Rayloc will be conducting individual meetings with all employees this week and will hold career fairs Feb. 7, 8, 21 and 22, according to information distributed to employees. The company will stop all rotating electrical production and caliper production March 15 and end other production capabilities March 17, the packet said.

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