Business picks up, Crenlo hires back all but 50 laid-off workers - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

by Noel Sederstrom, KTTC News Director

Business picks up, Crenlo hires back all but 50 laid-off workers

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ROCHESTER (KTTC-DT) -- Cab manufacturer Crenlo LLC in Rochester has hired back all but about 50 of the 193 workers laid off during the severe downturn in the economy last year.

Crenlo President and CEO Lance Fleming tells KTTC NewsCenter that construction equipment business has been steadily picking up as the companies that Crenlo supplies stopped cutting inventories. 

Some of Crenlo's largest customers, including Caterpillar and John Deere, cut back on their equipment orders when the U.S. economy plunged in late 2008 and the slowdown continued throughout much of 2009.  At the time, Fleming indicated that Caterpillar and John Deere "are not waiting to see if things get better" and "since we serve them on a 'just in time' basis and there is not an inventory buffer between us, we must react quickly to their schedule changes."

But happily for both Crenlo and its workers in Rochester, business is back.

"At the low point of the recession in the first half of 2009, Crenlo had 193 production associates on layoff as major customers in the construction equipment market slashed production schedules and instituted plant shutdowns," said Fleming in a written statement to KTTC. "Since that time, Crenlo has been slowly adding back to the production workforce such that less than 50 employees remained on layoff at the end of April."

Fleming says Crenlo is "cautiously optimistic" that the North American economy will continue to improve, but he believes that there's a risk that the housing and commercial construction recovery will be slow. 

Crenlo has added three new cab lines and one new enclosure manufacturing program since the worst of the downturn, and this new production has been a driving force for hiring back many of its laid-off employees in the Rochester area. 

That's the reason, he says, that Crenlo will not add back more of the laid-off employees until there is a significantly higher upturn in orders.

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