Layoffs begin at E-One
By Rick Cundiff
Published: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 8:47 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 10:06 a.m.
OCALA - Fire truck manufacturer E-One began a wave of layoffs Tuesday morning that employees said will eliminate 200 to 300 positions as the company moves to private ownership.
PHOTOS BY DOUG ENGLE/STAR-BANNER
Michael Puzino, left, and Lanny Hill give each other hugs outside the Emergency One chassis plant after being laid off Tuesday morning. "There is no ill feelings towards them," said Hill, who had 26 years with the company as a welder. "The strong will survive."
click to enlarge
A former Emergency One employee, left, walks out of the E-One chassis plant on Southwest 20th Street after being laid off Tuesday morning. A fellow employee, right, helps him with his personal belongings.
E-One spokeswoman Amanda Davis said the number reported by laid off employees was not accurate.
"You're not within the range," she said. "That's way too high."
Day shift workers leaving the E-One chassis plant confirmed they had been told at 7 a.m. that they were being laid off because the company has too many workers.
"The company's got to be profitable," said Shawn Conner, a nine-year employee. "As it is, they've got too many employees."
The layoffs come on the day E-One and its longtime corporate parent, Federal Signal Corp., announced the completion of the sale of E-One to a combination of E-One management staff and American Industrial Partners, a private equity firm.
E-One, founded in Ocala in 1974, has been owned by Federal Signal since 1979. E-One lost nearly $25 million last year, and Federal Signal investors have been pressuring the Oak Brook, Ill.-based corporation to sell the fire truck maker.
Several laid-off employees confirmed E-One offered a severance package but said they didn't know the details yet.
The layoffs weren't a complete surprise, employees said.
"We heard rumors last week and the week before, but they were just rumors, so we didn't worry," said Michael Puzino, who worked in the fabrication department for two years.
"We all saw the handwriting on the wall," said George Goodridge, a 20-year employee.
Puzino said the number of workers laid off would probably be substantial.
"They said last week they were going to lay off at least 200 people," he said.
Another employee, Lanny Hill, put the figure even higher.
"I think they said right at 300," he said.
Company spokeswoman Davis disputed the number but declined to provide an accurate figure, saying the company will issue a statement Wednesday.
Hill, a small-parts welder, worked for E-One for 25 years. Like other laid off workers, he offered only positive comments about his former employer.
"It was good. They provided you well," he said. "It's good. I wish them well. Ö They're all good people."
For Goodridge, 65, Tuesday was the second time he'd lost a long-term job.
"I've already lost a job at AT&T. I was there 25 years," he said. "That hurt, no matter what. I was hoping to stay another year or two [at E-One] if my health was good."
Conner, who was a rigger on the chassis line, remained optimistic as he left the plant.
"It's all right," he said. "There's more jobs out there, and we'll all get through it."
Hill, 60, wasn't sure what he'd do next.
"I guess, go home and sit down and relax for a while and look through the package they gave us and get on the Internet," he said.
Like Conner, he remained hopeful as he left the chassis plant.
"There is life after E-One," he said. "We will survive."
Rick Cundiff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 352-867-4130.
God bless all effected.
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Thread: E-one is Laying Off
08-05-2008, 03:02 PM #1
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E-one is Laying Off
08-05-2008, 03:58 PM #2
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Are these to be permanent layoffs????
08-05-2008, 07:35 PM #3
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08-07-2008, 09:26 AM #5
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OCALA - Fire truck manufacturer E-One announced Wednesday that it is cutting back to a single operating shift.
A statement by E-One CEO Peter Guile announcing the elimination of the second shift came a day after the company laid off an undetermined number of workers.
"E-One has benefitted from a strong order intake over the past several months and our backlog is robust," the statement said. "Recent operational efficiency improvements have allowed us to consolidate many of the operations and return to a single shift operation."
E-One spokeswoman Amanda Davis said Tuesday that statements by laid-off workers claiming the number of employees cut was between 200 and 300 were "way too high." Davis said at the time that the company would provide additional information Wednesday, but E-One's statement contained only Guile's comments and no specific numbers.
Rusty Skinner, executive vice president of CLM Workforce, said between 60 and 70 ex-E-One workers came to the job agency Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Most of the folks that are coming in are filing for unemployment and want to know what jobs are out there," Skinner said.
CLM Workforce, in conjunction with Central Florida Community College and the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corp., has set up a program called Ocala CARES to assist displaced E-One employees. The program will hold a job fair for E-One workers from 2 to 4 p.m. today at CFCC's Ewers Century Center, Room 107. The job fair will feature local and regional employers, including Sunair Electronics, ESD Waste2Water, and Sandvik Mining and Construction, Lockheed Martin and Georgia-Pacific.
"Generally, we've had some good responses [from employers]," Skinner said. "I think employers realize the quality of employees we had at E-One."
CLM Workforce also is sponsoring a more general job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at CFCC's Webber Center.
Ocala CARES - the acronym means Comprehensive Assistance and Re-Employment Services - also offers counseling, short-term training and other assistance for former E-One workers, Skinner said.
"We're hoping that we'll be able to meet whatever needs they have to support them," he said. "I think we're going to be able to offer a lot of options to people affected. Right now, we've got a good plan in place."
EDC President Pete Tesch said he was concerned about the potential loss of talented workers if former E-One employees leave for work outside the county.
"That is a concern," he said. "These workers have a very deep knowledge base; they're skilled."
The layoffs aren't likely to help the county's unemployment rate, which reached 7.2 percent in June.
"In the short run," Tesch said, "It's another measure of pain."
Rick Cundiff may be reached at email@example.com or at 867-4130.
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