Rayloc closing Hancock plant in MarchShutdown will leave 260 local people out of work!
Workers on the second shift at Rayloc's Hancock plant were met at the gates last Tuesday, January 15 and told they and most of their co-workers would be out of a job in two months.
In a letter signed by company executive Rick Borman, Rayloc employees were notified that production work at the Hancock plant would cease March 17, putting 260 people out of work.
Repeated calls to Rick Borman by The Hancock News and The Morgan Messenger for a statement about the plant reorganization received no response.
Rayloc has operated in Hancock since 1972 and employs 300 workers from across the three-state region.
Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy estimated about 40% of Rayloc's workforce, or 123 employees, comes from Hancock, 40% from Berkeley Springs and 20%, or 62 employees, from the Warfordsburg area.
The January 15 letter cited significant changes in the company and a need to remain competitive and profitable as reasons for the upcoming layoffs.
In order to achieve our company objectives, it has become necessary to restructure the Hancock facility and eliminate our production facilities, the letter said.
Workers were told the layoffs are expected to be permanent.
The announcement made no mention of job opportunities at the company's other locations, though it mentioned at least 25 positions that might remain in sorting, packing and overstock at the Hancock facility. Those jobs will be awarded based on seniority, the company indicated.
Genuine Parts Company, Rayloc's parent company, employs 32,000 workers across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
After the layoffs
Rayloc's personnel director Wayne Younker was scheduled to meet with all Rayloc employees last week to discuss severance pay, unused vacation and leave time, pension and retirement benefits, and the process of applying for unemployment benefits once the Hancock plant closes in March.
According to Rayloc, an employee's severance package will be calculated based on the number of years with the company.
At the highest end, those that have worked at Rayloc for 30 years can expect to receive 20 weeks of pay. Those who have worked there from one to three years will get only a week's pay as part of the layoff.
Part-time, seasonal workers and new hires are not entitled to severance payments, according to the company.
In the letter they were given from Borman, Rayloc workers were told severance pay would be given only to those who worked through March 17.
Employees were also notified that their health benefits will end at midnight on March 17.
Local officials surprised
Mayor Murphy said on Wednesday that town officials were blindsided by the Rayloc announcement.
We had no heads-up about it. Nobody gave us a warning, Murphy said.
We've had such a positive experience with Rayloc. They've really supported the community, Murphy said.
We had partnered with them to build a new road. We thought we had done what we needed to do to keep them in town, Murphy said, referring to the realignment of Ford Drive so Rayloc would have improved access to Rt. 144.
The cost of the road project was partially covered by state economic development funds.
Washington County's economic development director Tim Troxell was also surprised by the Rayloc news. He said his office had talked to Rayloc officials the day before the layoff announcement to update their employment numbers, which had dropped in the last year from 375 to 309.
Troxell said Rayloc recently leased a 75,000-sq.-ft. facility in Williamsport, and county officials were told the company intended to move its shipping department there because of space limitations at Hancock's 175,000-sq.-ft. facility.
In 2006, the Hancock plant was listed as Rayloc's second-largest manufacturing facility, one of six in the United States. Workers there make and rebuild automotive brake components, starters, alternators and small electrical parts, primarily for NAPA stores nationwide.
Rayloc had been consistently listed as one of the Top 20 Employers in Washington County. In 2006, it ranked 16th, just below the City of Hagerstown and Horizon Goodwill Industries.
The plant layoffs will hit 260 of the company's local workers, whose average wage is just above $16 per hour, according to the county's Economic Development Commission.
The end of production at the Hancock plant will pull nearly $8.5 million in payroll out of local economies.
Everyone will be affected. Rayloc workers buy groceries at Pittman's, get their glasses at Wheeler's, the impact is across the board, Murphy said.
In addition to losing local wages, the Town of Hancock may also take a hit on tax revenue once the plant ceases operations.
This year, Rayloc is due to pay $7,000 personal property tax on its inventory.
The company pays $10,885 in real estate taxes to the town, and will continue to do so as long as it owns the plant and land, officials said.
Efforts to help workers
Murphy said the priority for town officials is to offer help to displaced Rayloc workers.
We'll do what we learned to do with London Fog and Fleetwood, he said.
The Western Maryland Consortium has been asked to offer retraining programs and resum