Anderson-Tully lays off 50 more workers from plant

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 6, 2002

[05/06/02]Fifty more workers have been laid off at Anderson-Tully Engineered Wood company, bringing to 118 the number out of work at the plant this week.

The latest cutback was announced late Thursday in a press release that did not say how many workers were affected or for how long.

“We do intend to bring (some of) those people back in Monday,” said Tony Parks, chief executive officer.

The first 68 layoffs, late last week, are permanent, and those employees are not expected to return to work, company officials said early this week.

Ben Woods, manager of human resources at Anderson-Tully, said the number of employees affected by the latest layoff varies from day to day because workers are brought in to work part of the week as they are needed.

“Usually, they’re not all out in one day,” Woods said.

Parks said employees with available vacation time were allowed to take that time this week while maintenance and equipment changes were being made at the mill. Employees who are not being brought back to work Monday will return in the next two to three weeks, he said.

The mill has gone from about 225 to about 150 employees in the past year. Parks said the company plans to add a second shift at the mill and rehire when the market for hardwood flooring improves.

“I know that we’ll have some plans by the end of the summer,” Parks said.

He said that the mill was making changes to improve the quality of the product and that the research and development phase of the process is taking longer than had been expected.

In 2000, the Memphis-based hardwood lumber company announced a $22 million to $25 million expansion to its hardwood veneer mill. The expansion was expected to create as many as 350 jobs, according to statements made in quest of grants and tax exemptions.

Parks said that by the end of the summer, plans are to add a second shift to the operations at the mill and hire back some of the employees laid off last week.

Anderson-Tully has had operations in Vicksburg for 112 years and manages 300,000 acres of timber along the Mississippi River to turn into hardwood flooring for national distribution.

In March, Exide Technologies, formerly GNB Batteries, announced it will close its Vicksburg plant next week as part of a restructuring of the company. The facility on the Vicksburg Harbor produces battery covers for automobile and marine batteries and employs 114.

Separately, Vicksburg Chemical laid off about 65 people in March after Cedar Chemical Corporation based in Memphis, the parent of Vicksburg Chemical, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Another 70 workers are expected to lose their jobs in the next two months when the Vicksburg Kmart on Pemberton Square Boulevard closes. The store is among 284 stores the retailer will close.

The jobless rate in Warren County was about 5.1 percent in the month of March. That number was up slightly from February when the rate was 4.6 percent.

About 119 new jobs are expected this summer with the opening of CalsonicKansei Mississippi, one of two Nissan suppliers coming to the Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex at Flowers. It is expected to be followed by the opening of Yorozu Automotive in 2003 which will employ about 120.