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Manitowoc doubles layoffs to 315

January 19, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

SHADY GROVE, Pa. -- A spokesman for Franklin County's third-largest employer confirmed Monday that the number of jobs being cut at its plant more than doubled since the announcement a month ago.

Manitowoc Crane Group told 305 production workers and 10 salaried employees on Friday that they were being laid off due to a decreased demand for mobile cranes.

Most left that day and did not return to work, according to Dennis Rooney, vice president for human resources.

He attributed the layoffs -- increased from a mid-December announcement of 130 jobs -- to a "pretty strong softening of the marketplace for our product."

"Things just turned around that quickly," Rooney said.

As customers' construction projects are put on hold, the demand for cranes lessens.

"The entire 2009 looks pretty soft for us. ... We're convinced it's going to come back beyond 2009," Rooney said.

No changes have been made to the product line, he said.

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Production employees are eligible for unemployment and salaried professionals were offered what Rooney called a "separation package."

The plant on Pa. 16 is down to 1,200 employees, Rooney said.

Decisions about staffing levels are a cooperative effort between the local management team and Manitowoc Crane Group's headquarters in Wisconsin.

Founded in 1947, the one-time Grove Manufacturing became a part of Manitowoc Crane Group in 2002. The Shady Grove plant produces a mix of small and large cranes, Larry Weyers, executive vice president of the Americas region for Manitowoc Cranes, said in December.

In late September, the Shady Grove plant added 60,000 square feet to its facility and with it 170 jobs, bringing the total jobs added since 2006 to about 700, Weyers said.

At that time, there were many backlogged orders for small cranes waiting for the Shady Grove plant to fill and the company was optimistic that those orders would hold into 2009, he said.

Since then, Weyers said most of the backlogged orders have been delayed or canceled because customers cannot get financing in the current lending market.

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