|Updated: 2/17/2009 8:41 am
||Published: 2/16/2009 4:56 pm
Many employees have to find new jobs after the Lennox heating and cooling plant in Stuttgart announced 256 layoffs. Employees say it's not just hurting them, it's also having an impact on businesses in Stuttgart and other nearby communities.
FOX16 talked to a handful of employees who got laid off. Many are too upset to go on camera but they said they don't know what they're going to do now. The city's other big employer, Riceland Foods, just had some layoffs of its own and jobs are scarce.
Employee Zach Holland told Fox 16, "Today was an emotional day for a lot of employees. I've seen people I've worked with for the last 4 years lose their jobs today," says employee Zach Holland.
Holland lost 9 people on his line Monday. He had to step in and fill their jobs. Holland says the workload will no doubt be tougher and he's worried he might be next to go. "There could be more (layoffs) depending on the economy," explains Holland.
Those with Lennox say despite the layoffs, the plant in Stuttgart will remain. There are still more than 700 hourly employees and 125 salaried employees. Lennox President Harry Bizios was quoted in a media release saying, "our Stuttgart operations are essential to our future, as seen in the recent plant expansion." He was referring to an expansion in 2007.
Stuttgart businesses that rely on Lennox employees to keep them going are already seeing an impact. Stephanie Martindale with Dodge's Chicken said, "7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. is their break and we should have some in here and there haven't been any."
Those who live here are worried about the ripple effect of these layoffs in Arkansas County and others nearby counties. "It effects the community as a whole and Lennox employs a lot of people outside Stuttgart. You've got Clarendon, Pine Bluff, Humphrey," says Holland.
Employees say they will qualify for unemployment but that will only go so far. If they can't find work in Stuttgart they'll start looking in Pine Bluff about 35 miles away.
FOX16 has learned 256 people have been laid off at Lennox in Stuttgart. Lennox tells us they have laid off 14 salary workers and 142 hourly workers. Lennox.com
says they employed 983 before the layoffs.
According the mayor's office, the employees found out when they showed up for work Monday. The layoffs are effective immediately.
Lennox makes heating and air conditioning units.
The Lennox Industries Stuttgart facility announced a reduction in their workforce, effective immediately. 242 hourly employees and 14 salaried employees were included in the reduction. No disruptions to plant operations or customer service are anticipated.
“Given the extremely difficult economic environment in which we are operating, this was a difficult but necessary decision,” said Albert King, Lennox Stuttgart General plant manager.
“Although the current workforce reductions were necessary given the decline in our end markets, our Stuttgart operations are essential to our future, as seen in the recent plant expansion,” said Harry Bizios, president and COO, Lennox International Commercial Heating & Cooling.
Just prior to the announced reduction, the Lennox Stuttgart facility included 946 hourly and 139 salaried employees. The company recently expanded its Stuttgart facility in 2007.
“While we are not currently planning for any additional reductions in our Stuttgart workforce, we will continue to look for opportunities to control our costs in this challenging business climate,” King said.
Lennox Industries is a subsidiary of Lennox International Inc. Through its subsidiaries, Lennox International is a global leader in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration markets. Lennox International stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LII.”