Textile company to lay off 90 at Guilford, Newport plants

Posted Jan. 13, 2009, at 9:08 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:03 a.m.

GUILFORD, Maine — About 90 employees of True Textiles, formerly InterfaceFABRIC Inc., will be permanently laid off on Jan. 26 because of the poor economic climate, the company said.

The grim announcement came Tuesday when management informed shift workers of the company’s decision to reduce employment, according to Kirk Crisman, senior vice president of human resources for True Textiles. Crisman, who was contacted by telephone at his office in the company’s Elkin, N.C., plant, said the meetings with employees will continue today when a new wave of shift workers arrive for work.

“We’re posting it as a permanent layoff simply because we have no way of knowing [when the economy may improve],” Crisman said Tuesday. He said the company, which manufactures panel fabrics for the office industry, has call-back procedures in place should business conditions improve.

“Our primary business is office furniture, so you can well imagine when cutbacks take place, as far as people making purchases in the business community, unfortunately we’re one of the first things they look at as something they can delay purchasing,” Crisman said. “We’re pretty much in a volatile situation because of that.”

In Maine, True Textiles operates two plants in Guilford and another in Newport. People from as far away as Corinth, Brownville, Greenville and Corinna work at the Guilford plants.

The layoffs will affect “somewhere between 75 and 90 people” and take effect Jan. 26, according to Crisman. He said there are approximately 100 people each employed at the Newport plant and the Saulter plant in Guilford, and about 400 in the main plant in Guilford. He also said the economic conditions “have affected” the company’s other plants in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lancastor, S.C.; and Elkin, N.C., but he didn’t say how.

A handful of employees contacted Tuesday said they were told the layoffs would affect 50 people at the main facility, 25 at the Saulter plant and 15 at the Newport plant. No one wanted to be named because those being laid off have not yet been identified.

At the Guilford and Newport plants, Crisman said the company will define what positions should be retained, and seniority will be considered. Those employees with longevity will have an opportunity to bump other employees in jobs they can perform, he said.

The employees who are laid off will not receive severance packages, Crisman said. The company will, however, bring in outside sources to help the affected employees write resumes and prepare for a job search, he said. The company also is working with the federal Department of Labor to see if the employees qualify for trade adjustment training, Crisman said.

Guilford Town Manager Tom Goulette said Tuesday evening he was dismayed by the announcement but recognized the company’s situation.

“It’s incumbent on any responsible company to act prudently to take the necessary steps for survival,” Goulette said. “Massive layoffs are devastating to the local area, but so much more so would be a permanent closure. True must position itself to weather this economic storm and be prepared to excel once again when the economy recovers.”

The town manager added that “this layoff is going to affect town resources, both directly [through added general assistance costs] and indirectly,” because people will have less money to spend at local businesses. “I hope and pray this hiccup is short in duration.”

One of the greatest features of Guilford is the often-heralded spirit of volunteerism and the generosity of people, Goulette noted. “I don’t know if oil prices will stay the same, I don’t know if the mill will recover, but I do know that I can count on people helping one another.”

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