Marden’s lays off 3 percent of workforce during season slump

Posted Feb. 14, 2013, at 7:50 p.m.

WATERVILLE, Maine — Not even Marden’s, Maine’s well-known surplus and salvage store chain, is immune to seasonal economic swings.

Approximately 3 percent of Marden’s total workforce has been laid off since January, but that’s not unusual for this time of year, according to Craig Burgess, Marden’s general manager.

“It’s an annual thing, actually,” said Burgess on Thursday. “January and February are the slowest months of the year and we have to control our labor relative to our sales.

“Our store management is tasked with the responsibility of making sure that relationship stays connected and are empowered to make those staffing judgments at the store level.”

The most recent layoffs total roughly 24 of the approximately 800 employed at the 14 retail stores and three warehouses from Madawaska to Sanford.

“It’s very small, relatively speaking. Three percent total. It’s across all job categories and includes part-time, full time and management positions,” Burgess said.

The laid-off workers will be rehired once compatible positions become available either through openings or increased business.

“If the work and sales are there and pick up, as they traditionally do, we always look at past employees first if they’re a match for the position they’re applying for,” he said. “There are benefits to us to hire back previous employees because they already know our system and they’ve already been trained.”

Burgess said it’s always tough to have to let employees in good standing go.

“An employee in a store might see it and think it’s a new phenomenon, but it’s not. No one likes to see their co-workers leave,” said Burgess. “But we probably have one of the best labor retention rates in the state.”

Marden’s began operations when founder Mickey Marden opened for business in a small Fairfield auction house in 1964.