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Crenlo laying off 43 more workers

By Jeff Kiger

jkiger@postbulletin.com

A week after laying off 68 workers, Rochester vehicle cab maker Crenlo Inc. is cutting another 43 employees due to an additional drop in business.

While large cutbacks at Crenlo’s two top customers, Caterpillar Inc. and John Deere, which drove the first round of layoffs, were expected, the layoffs this week were a surprise.

"We did not see this one coming," said Crenlo CEO and President Lance Fleming on Tuesday.

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Crenlo, owned by New York-based Dover Corp., is a contract manufacturer that makes products such as cabs from sheet metal, steel frames for construction, and agricultural vehicles.

Caterpillar and John Deere announced this week new production reductions and scheduled new shutdowns in March, April and July, in addition to the previous cuts.

"When they stop, we stop," said Fleming. "There is not a buffer of inventory between us."

So far this year, Crenlo has laid off 111 workers. The company started the year with 550 employees in the shop area, said Fleming.

And the pain might not be over.

In an announcement, Fleming wrote: "The risk of additional actions such as short work weeks and temporary layoffs remains. Decisions on these actions will be based on the future actions of our customers."

Affected employees have 18-month recall rights.

Crenlo has additional salaried employees at its two Rochester facilities, but Fleming declined to say how many.

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While the immediate future is dark, things could improve later in the year. Contracts for new products are slated to start late in the second quarter (May or June) and into the third quarter (July to September).

In 2001, the company went through a similarly tough time and recovered from it. Fleming said the economy will rebound, but until then the company needs to take the steps needed to keep things rolling.

"We’re just being very prudent," he said of the layoffs.

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