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Tough times prompting reductions at Helac

Squeezed by a declining economy and increased costs, one of Enumclaw’s largest private employers has announced it will be reducing its workforce.

Helac Corporation, a manufacturer of hydraulic rotary actuators and construction equipment attachments since 1974, will shrink by 35 employees and implement a reduced work week with support from Washington State’s Shared Work Program.

According to a company-issued press release, the staff reduction covers job functions across the entire organization, including manufacturing and office support. The cuts represent 17 percent of Helac’s total workforce of 201 employees.

“Like many manufacturers, we are facing a marketplace with unprecedented challenges, including reduced demand levels that are 40 to 50 percent lower than the year prior, said Bill Power, Helac’s chief operating officer. “We’ve seen an annual growth rate of 20 percent over the last decade and we were expecting the market to eventually take a downturn based on historical trends. We didn’t, however, expect such significant and sudden market shifts.

“Reducing employment is always a last resort for Helac Corporation yet it has become necessary for Helac to remain competitive in the marketplace during this global recession.”

Dean Weyer, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said Helac is hoping to avoid further cuts.

“We are taking a proactive stance to retain as many employees as possible, yet at the same time, we are developing a strategy so we can hopefully avoid any additional workforce reductions in the future,” Weyer said. “We understand the disruptions that layoffs cause in personal lives and in the community and are doing what we can to minimize the impact of this extremely difficult decision.”

Other details behind the cost-cutting measures include:

• The reduced work week will be implemented on an as-needed basis and reviewed weekly to support variations in customer demand;

“The executive team will take a reduction in pay of 5 percent until the financial situation improves.

• Administrative spending will be cut by 13 percent.

• We remain positive about the future growth at Helac Corporation and will use this downturn as an opportunity to continue to diversify into new market segments, push through our new product development efforts and focus on streamlining processes that will drive our long-term profitability,” Power said. “There will be a seamless transition of job functions to ensure we continue to provide our customers with the highest standards for customer responsiveness, product quality and on-time delivery.”

A leader in the fluid power industry for more than 35 years, Helac – which operates from a plant on Battersby Avenue – manufactures a comprehensive line of hydraulic rotary actuators and attachments for the construction equipment industry. Helac PowerTilt and PowerGrip, two specialty products, increase the utilization of backhoes and excavators. Thousands of worldwide customers in diverse markets use Helac products.

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