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UPDATED (7:53 p.m.): Sears Manufacturing Co., 1718 S. Concord St., Davenport, announced Friday that is has laid off a total of 93 people, or more than 16 percent of its work force.

The action adds to a growing list of Quad-City companies laying off workers in recent weeks, including Deere & Co., Alcoa Davenport Works and Nichols Aluminum.

“While we have not lost any market share, we have seen unprecedented production declines in the construction, truck and industrial market segments,” company chief executive officer Jim Sears said. “Further complicating the situation has been the lack of visibility of the downturn. The reductions have been extreme and have happened quickly. As a result, our company’s schedules for the first quarter 2009 have been significantly impacted.

“In response to the reduced demand for our products, we have been forced to size the organization to current levels of business. Although the decision to act is prudent, the process of reducing employees has been difficult and not taken lightly.”

Sears said 75 of the 93 were members of UAW Local 1896, and 31 of the 75 were voluntary layoffs. The other 18 affected positions involved salaried, part-time or contract employees. Before the layoffs, he said the company employed 566 people. The salaried employees ranged from entry-level workers to managers, he said.

Sears said the layoffs came in three phases: On Jan. 21, a total of 35 hourly employees were laid off, effective Jan. 26. On Wednesday, 40 more layoffs were announced for hourly employees, effective Monday. On Friday, the 18 salaried workers were informed that their jobs were eliminated, effective immediately, Sears said.

The Quad-City unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent in December, a jump from 5.6 percent in November, according to statistics released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Sears Manufacturing makes suspension and non-suspension seating for agricultural, construction and industrial equipment and on-the-road trucks. The company is the major seat supplier to Deere & Co., CNH, Caterpillar, Hyster, Yale, Freightliner and Bobcat, among other manufacturers.

“It did take a while to hit our market segments,” Sears said of the recession. “… But we have seen a significant fall in the month of January. We have not lost market share. It is completely a byproduct of the general slowdowns in these markets.”

The decision to cut jobs was a difficult one.

“We honestly have been fortunate we have not had a high frequency of layoffs,” he said. “We are a family-run business. It makes these kinds of things difficult. It is the worst (layoff) that we ever had to deal with in my tenure. From an expense standpoint, there is no question this was necessary.

“We’ve got a lot of employees, some here for a long time, who have great personal and professional relationships. But we have to pick ourselves back up. We still have the opportunity to move forward.”

He said all the employees are on callback, meaning as the economy improves, they eventually could be brought back to work.


EARLIER STORY: Sears Manufacturing of Davenport announced 93 layoffs today, representing a 16.5 reduction in its work force.

Jim Sears, chief executive officer, said 31 of those were voluntary layoffs.

“While we have not lost any market share, we have seen unprecedented production declines in the construction, truck and industrial market segments,” he said in a news release. “Further complicating the situation has been the lack of visibility of the downturn. The reductions have been extreme and have happened quickly. As a result, our company’s schedules for the first quarter 2009 have been significantly impacted.

“In response to the reduced demand for our products, we have been forced to size the organization to current levels of business. Although the decision to act is prudent, the process of reducing employees has been difficult and not taken lightly.”

In addition to the 31 voluntary layoffs, the remainder include people working at Sears for other companies under contract, and part-time and full-time employees.

Sears Manufacturing Co. is a manufacturer of suspension and non-suspension seating for agricultural, construction and industrial equipment and on-the-road trucks along with being the major seat supplier to Deere & Co., CNH, Caterpillar, Hyster, Yale, Freightliner and Bobcat, among others.

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