chief says headquarters may relocate in future
Labs adjusts layoff schedule
Vernay Laboratories has once again tweaked its closing plans and the number
of employees who were scheduled to be laid off Friday, Feb. 28, has dwindled
down to five from 30.
Management notified workers of the change on Monday, union leader Ralph
Foster said, giving the five a chance to decide their options and the
other 25 a slightly prolonged work schedule.
In addition, the companys president and CEO, Tom Allen, said this
week that Vernay may eventually relocate its corporate headquarters out
The jobs being eliminated this week include two skilled trade toolmakers
and three line molding production jobs. Two of the employees have put
in over 13 years with the company, two have over 19 years seniority and
one has been with Vernay for more than 25 years.
Employees say theyve been expecting to leave.
Mold inspector Ron Cosby, who lives in Xenia, said its hard to decide
what to do after being with the company so long.
Im ready to move on, honestly, he said. The last
few weeks its been hardest just to be able to say this is what Im
going to do next.
Vernays layoff and plant closure schedules have changed several
times since last fall. The first round of layoffs was originally scheduled
for late September, but instead took place in mid-October.
Were moving slower than we had anticipated, Allen said
on Monday. Its hard to describe to people who arent
familiar with this moving process.
Much of Vernays automotive parts manufacturing is currently being
moved to the companys plants in Georgia and South Carolina.
Allen indicated that customer involvement in the manufacturing implementation
process down south was the main reason the schedule has been so unpredictable.
Each customer has the right to approve the new product, set up testing
and make sure the parts are being produced at a consistent quality level,
Allen said. Weve been trying to honor our customers
desires to be a part of the revalidation process.
The timing of this process depends on how involved the customers want
to be with the product they are purchasing, he said.
Allen said he is aware that it is stressful for employees to have to wait
and not know when they will lose their jobs. He said the company is trying
to reach a balance between satisfying the needs of its customers and its
Vernay initially announced the closing of its two Dayton Street plants
in June 2002. It cited as reasons for the closure the companys excess
manufacturing capacity, a shifting customer base and a desire to facilitate
the environmental cleanup of its local facility, under the direction of
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Since last summer, 55 workers have been laid off in three rounds in October,
December and January, and dozens have left to take early retirement.
Plant 3, the large plant that handles automotive parts, is now scheduled
to close sometime in June or July, a few months ahead of the previously
estimated time frame, Allen said. The company originally planned to close
the plant at the end of 2002, but revised the closure to September.
Both the smaller medical device plant, or Plant 2, and Vernay headquarters
and research facilities will remain open longer, though how much longer
is difficult to estimate.
Allen said the corporate headquarters located on East South College Street
could become too small to house the management group that will be coming
over from Dayton Street once the plants start closing. Vernay is waiting
to finalize its contamination cleanup schedule with the EPA, to make a
decision about possibly relocating.
Once we get our remediation plan approved we may be forced into
a decision where well look elsewhere, he said. We may
relocate our corporate offices to another location in Dayton or somewhere
else in the Southeast.
EPA project manager Trish Polston tentatively projected the final corrective
measures for cleanup to come together close to 2005, though the predicted
interior cleanup measures will have been implemented prior to that time.
In the meantime, operations are slowly shifting out of Yellow Springs.
Foster estimates there were 320 employees working in plants 2 and 3 a
little over a year ago. Now the number is down to 80 to 85 people in both
plants. Plant 3 is already 65 percent empty, Foster said, with big semis
loading equipment from the plant for transport on a regular basis.
They are emptying plant 3 fairly quickly, he said. Its
Plant Manager Mike Maloy said that roughly 50 more workers would be laid
off before the closing of plant 3, though the schedule for those layoffs
will not be available for another two to three weeks. After the big plant
closes, he estimated that around 40 employees will be left in the small
plant and 55 management positions left at headquarters.