PDT Staff Writer
Seventy employees at SFI of Ohio, in New Boston, were laid off on Thursday, cutting the number of employees at the plant nearly in half.
Formerly M&J Welding, SFI took control on Dec. 22, 2007 to acquire “substantially all of the operating assets” of M&J’s New Boston facility. Raymond Balzer, of SFI of Ohio, said in January 2007 that there were about 83 people working at M&J in New Boston. This month, SFI was said to have had 158 employees — now down to 88. The half-mile long New Boston facility occupies 125,000 square feet on Grace Street, and specializes in components for the heavy crane and construction equipment industries.
With plants in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga., the company also services John Deere, FedEx, UPS, Grove, Caterpillar, Black & Decker, General Motors, Kubota and more.
SFI General Manager Dennis Ruch explained how the economy and fewer manufacturing contracts have greatly affected the company.
"The economy is one major issue, and it has to do with Grobe, one of our major customers," Ruch said. "Grobe was pulling a lot of production back in-house. Grobe was one of our base businesses here, and they pulled that back so we have to reduce the force."
He said SFI was manufacturing component parts for cranes for Grobe.
Another reason for the cutbacks, Ruch said, was because SFI recently completed its Mine Resistant Armor Plated (MRAP) military vehicles contract. Last summer, the company was producing as many as 500 MRAP vehicles each month. Ruch said it could be another month or two before that contract is renewed — if it's renewed at all.
Depending on future contracts, he said they may bring those employees back to work, but he would not make any commitments at this time.
"We're optimistic about the future, but we're going through some difficult times right now. We expect things to get back on heel as the economy turns around," Ruch said.
New Boston Mayor James Warren said he's placed the village on alert, to watch its spending.
"The way the economy is, we all had better be prepared for times that may be a little more difficult," Warren said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.