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Jerr-Dan closing both plants in Greencastle

July 14, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • The Jerr-Dan plant on U.S. 11 south of Greencastle, Pa., is seen Tuesday.
By Dana Brown,

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Manufacturing operations at the two Jerr-Dan plants in Greencastle will cease by October, a corporate spokesman said Tuesday.

Jerr-Dan branded production will be transferred to the JLG Industries facilities in McConnellsburg and Shippensburg, according to John Daggett, a spokesman for Oshkosh Corp., the Wisconsin-based parent corporation for both Jerr-Dan and JLG.

Jerr-Dan employs about 250 people. Daggett said some will be offered opportunities to transfer, but a corporate statement said there could be a reduction of more than 100 jobs in October.

Daggett said employees were told of the company's decision this week.

Jerr-Dan manufactures light-, medium- and heavy-duty carriers and wreckers as well as rotator tow vehicles and rollbacks. It is one of the world's leading manufacturers of towing and recovery bodies.

Oshkosh Corp. acquired the company for $80 million in June 2004, according to published reports.

"Jerr-Dan will continue to operate as a separate business, and the leadership team will continue to run the operations," the corporate statement said.

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The statement stated the changes will "maximize facilities and manufacturing operations, while reducing costs." The transition is scheduled to occur over the next couple of months, with Oct. 3 set as the date to finalize.

Jerr-Dan's front-office functions, such as sales and human resources, are slated to relocate to JLG's office in Fountain Head Plaza in Hagerstown in late October.

Named the Franklin County (Pa.) Area Development Corp. (FCADC) Large Business of the Year in 2008, Jerr-Dan was the county's sixth-largest manufacturing employer in 2009. FCADC President L. Michael Ross said it slipped from that spot as the number of employees continued to decrease in the recession.

"It really started to affect them in 2008 and 2009," he said, saying Jerr-Dan's employment was about 400 from 2005 to 2007.

Jerr-Dan was founded by Gerald Pool and Dan Reynolds in 1972 with seven employees, according to published reports.

"On one level, we understand it's a business decision and one that makes sense for Oshkosh as they look to become more efficient and make use of the plants," Ross said.

Despite that understanding, Ross said the decision is "personal" for Franklin County and the people whose jobs are affected.

"Jerr-Dan was a company that was conceived and born in Greencastle," Ross said. "It clearly has an effect on the county in terms of a perceptual impact. It's not dissimilar to LeBron James telling Cleveland he's leaving."

Ross said he's disappointed by the decision to send Jerr-Dan's administration to Washington County, Md. He said he's always been frustrated by Oshkosh maintaining the JLG administration there, after Pennsylvania taxpayers poured millions of dollars of economic development resources into the corporation.

FCADC will work with Oshkosh to find reuse opportunities for the plants on Hykes Road and Molly Pitcher Highway, Ross said. Their proximity to Interstate 81 Exits 1 and 3 in Pennsylvania is good, he said.

"They are functional industrial facilities, and hopefully they'll accommodate other users," Ross said.

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