Helac announces second round of job cuts

Lagging sales responsible for loss of 24 jobs at local plant

Enumclaw’s Helac Corporation, a local success story since 1974, has reduced its workforce for the second time in 2009.

A staff reduction announced May 5 included 24 employees representing 14 percent of Helac’s total workforce of 165 employees. The remaining employees returned to a 40-hour work week Monday.

The staff reduction covered job functions across the entire organization, including manufacturing and office support.

A leader in the fluid power industry for more than 35 years, Helac Corporation manufactures a comprehensive line of hydraulic rotary actuators and attachments for the construction equipment industry.

“This is a much more difficult market than we’d expected during our first round of layoffs in January,” Chief Operating Officer Bill Power said. “Sales continue to remain 40 to 50 percent lower than the year prior with continued uncertainty in the coming months.

“We tried to take a proactive stance to retain as many employees as possible with the reduced work week program,” Power said. “However, this slow economy is lasting longer than expected and the reduced work week is no longer a practical solution.”

Helac is implementing additional initiatives to reduce spending and keep as many workers employed as possible. These efforts, along with an ongoing commitment to running a lean organization, will allow the company to better position itself and compete during a global recession, Power added.

Aside from the local layoffs, Helac announced a pair of cost-cutting measures:

• Closure of a manufacturing plant in India – all manufacturing will be moved back to the factory in Enumclaw.

• A wage reduction – all salaried employees will take a pay cut of 5 percent until the economy rebounds.

“We remain positive that we’ll ride out this recession and will return to the same 20 percent growth years we had over the last decade,” company President Dean Weyer said.

He noted that Helac will use the ongoing economic downturn to continue to diversify into new market segments, push through some new product development efforts and focus on streamlining processes that will drive long-term profitability.

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