Vt. Castings Announces 30 Layoffs in Vermont

Communities / Aug. 22, 2013 10:28am EDT

Just two weeks after announcing an ownership change, Vermont Castings Group said last week it was laying off 100 workers, 30 of them at the company’s facilities in Randolph and Bethel.

Jess Baldwin, head of public relations at the Paris, Kentucky headquarters of the company, characterized the layoffs as “seasonal layoffs,” coming between the shipping of pre-season orders and responding to new orders as the winter season approaches.

Asked when the company would be likely to staff up for winter production, he was uncertain.

“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “If business picks up normally, it could be at the end of September or in October.

A warmer-than-usual fall, however, would slow down the process, he noted.

Baldwin’s perspective was echoed by Robert Wright, manager of the Randolph foundry.

“It’s been true for a few years” that the company has had layoffs in the August in-between system, he said. The layoffs this year, however, are “a little deeper than we’ve done in the past,” he acknowledged.

Part of the reason is that under the “lean engineering” principle of manufacturing, Vermont Castings no longer produces many stoves in anticipation of orders.

“Now we pretty much make to order,” he said.

We’re still in good shape,” he commented. “Orders are coming in pretty good” and there is “good stuff happening” in promotional efforts, he said.

The layoffs hit the Randolph and Bethel plants evenly—about 15 from each location, he said.

“I hope that in month or two that a lot of them will be called back,” he said.

Employees were laid off from Vermont Castings Group plants in Kentucky and Mexicali, Mexico, as well.

It was on Aug. 1 that the company announced that it had been purchased by a management group from its latest owner, The Riverside Company, a private equity firm.

The new chairman and CEO, Ricardo Leon, pledged that Wright, Assembly Plant Manager Rick Grant, and Tanya LaFrance would continue to manage the Vermont operations.

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