Pharos-Tribune

January 23, 2013

Slower than expected: MWI calls back five

MW Industries plant able to call back just a few of 17 laid-off workers, falling short of management’s hopes.

by Mitchell Kirk
Pharos-Tribune

LOGANSPORT — Management at the MW Industries plant in Logansport, known locally as Matthew-Warren, laid off 17 employees in October, hoping to bring them back within the next two months. While the plant was able to bring back five employees, a senior manager said that the still-reviving U.S. and international economies are keeping the other dozen from being reinstated.

“We’re still down quite a few people,” said John Lendel, vice president and general manager at MWI’s Logansport plant. “I can’t say things are back to normal levels.”

Lendel credited the five callbacks the plant was able to make to an increase in demand for truck safety springs. The plant manufactures springs, specialty fasteners and other precision components for large trucks and construction equipment.

“That business is coming back slowly but not at the rate we would like it to,” Lendel said, adding that business from Caterpillar, one of the plant’s largest customers, has been down lately. “The truck business did come back but it’s not coming back to levels we had anticipated.”

Lendel went on to explain that much of the reason business remains down is because of competitiveness, particularly regarding pricing.

“We’re continually being pressured on price and just the market in general,” Lendel said, explaining that reduction in the overall truck market has hurt MWI as well.

About two weeks before the layoffs, the union representing workers at MW Industries, United Steelworkers Local 3261, struck a deal with the company for a four-year contract regarding health insurance and wages. After the agreement had been made, Steve Miller, president of Local 3261, had told the Pharos-Tribune that the union accepted the new contract despite sentiments that it did not meet all of the organization’s goals. Miller did not return several calls requesting his view on MWI’s callback of five of the 17 laid off employees.

In order to bring back the rest of the workers, Lendel said “an overall increase in the U.S. economy” would be necessary. In the meantime, he said the company is trying to improve business by diversifying and acquiring new clients.

“We’re trying to gather new customers and working on trying to obtain new business in different markets,” Lendel said, adding that the company has also been revisiting former customers in an attempt to regain business that had been lost as well.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.