EAST JORDAN — Facing the effects of a continuing U.S. economic slowdown, East Jordan Iron Works has plans to lay off 80 employees as of Jan. 5.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision for us to make,” said Tad M. Malpass, executive vice president for the East Jordan manufacturer. “We have been faced with considerably reduced orders for our products and have seen many of our customers and competitors make similar, and even more extensive, cuts.”
Malpass said the company’s recent challenges don’t result from an influx of overseas products or other competition.
Rather, the industries that typically buy the firm’s products — which as construction castings, other infrastructure products and some truck and trailer brake components — are facing a slump, and the company needed to adjust production accordingly.
“The markets that we serve, housing and construction and trucking, are now in a depressed state,” Malpass said. “Things are dried up. People are on hold.”
Based on the economic conditions, the iron works had announced previous layoffs affecting about 41 employees in October.
While company officials figure on an eventual turnaround in the markets, “we don’t have any idea at this point when things will come back,” he said.
“The intent is to bring (laid-off employees) back,” he said. “We’re working hard at and trying to get in a position where we can call people back.
“We’ve got a lot of good hardworking folks there. It’s through no fault of their own.”
Earlier this year, the iron works employed 480-500 people, Malpass said. Based on the earlier layoffs, the cutbacks planned for January and other factors such as retirements and resignations, about 350 employees will remain in the workforce.
Following the layoffs, Malpass said the iron works will continue offering affected employees some health-benefit coverage for a limited time.
“It’s a difficult time for people,” he said. “They will go on unemployment.”
At the time of the earlier layoffs, the 125-year-old business moved its production schedule from two shifts a day to one and a half. January’s adjustments will further reduce production to one daily shift.