Guardian Announces Temporary Layoffs

Guardian Industries will layoff up to 75 employees during the holidays to overhaul manufacturing on the oldest line of the Albion plant.

"We've waited as long as we can wait," said Bill Jacoby, vice-president of manufacturing at Guardian.

The line has been updated every eight years, but now will undergo a complete transformation to a 2008 model line, Jacoby said.

In the meantime, at least 50 employees will collect unemployment for up to eight weeks, although Guardian will continue to pay medical benefits and holiday pay, he said.

The plant has not yet determined what day the layoffs will start, and the company does intend to rehire all of the employees, Jacoby said.

"This is our oldest line, our best line. We've got good people here. We've told all of them they're all coming back," Jacoby said.

Peggy Sindt, director of the Albion Economic Development Corporation, was concerned to hear of the potential layoffs because of the positive influence Guardian has had on the local economy.

"Obviously, we don't want to see even one layoff anywhere, even for a day," Sindt said.

"If in fact this is going to happen, we hope it will be short-lived," she said.

The Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce named Guardian "Manufacturer of the Year" in 2006 after they completed a much-hailed expansion that helped boost the sluggish local economy.

The plant added 100 new employees to its 270 workers after completing a $25 million line expansion that nearly doubled plant production.

State-of-the-art technology on the new line made it possible for the plant to produce enough fiberglass to insulate an average home every 2.5 minutes, according to the company Web site.

The company received support for the expansion from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation with a one-time, $1.6 million tax credit, based on the number of jobs created. Sheridan Township also gave Guardian $4 million in tax abatements over 12 years.

Building expansion added 150,000 square feet to the North Street facility, including new offices and exercise facilities for employees.

In the process, the company purchased a considerable amount of real estate in the area to make room for the expansion, said Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce President Sue Marcos.

"It had a great impact on the community," Marcos said.

Guardian's success had a ripple effect and renewed business interest in the area, including recent discussions of a housing development, she said.

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