At the same time, iron works executive vice president Tad Malpass noted that the increased demand — and potentially the workers’ callback — could be temporary. “It’s a positive thing, but we’re looking at it just with a little bit of apprehension so we don’t mislead anyone,” he said.
At a minimum, Malpass figures the additional orders should allow the recalled workers to remain on the job for two weeks, although their stay could be longer — perhaps ongoing — if the demand for production continues.One of Charlevoix County’s largest employers, East Jordan Iron Works makes construction castings, other infrastructure products and truck and trailer brake drums. It laid off 41 workers in October and 80 more in early January as an economic slowdown took hold in the markets it serves. Through those layoffs, the iron works’ operating schedule was reduced from two daily shifts to one.
Malpass said the company recently had seen some rebound in demand for utility castings and brake drums which would keep the company busy for more than the single shift, at least temporarily. As a result, the iron works will see two or three hours of additional operation per day. Even when told the callback might be temporary, Malpass said the workers involved responded with enthusiasm. He added that employees remaining on the job have been working hard and looking for ways to help the business save money, and that there are still many more who the company would like to bring back to work. Although hopeful for a building-industry turnaround that would revive customer orders, Malpass noted that there’s still economic uncertainty to sort through.
“Nobody can forecast right now — we can’t and our customers can’t,” he said. “We’ll hope for the best, and we’re ready to hit the ground running.”