Lay­offs planned at three area em­ploy­ers

Ledger-Enquirer - - Local - BY TONY ADAMS [email protected]

It looks to be a tough Christ­mas and New Year for sev­eral hun­dred work­ers and their fam­i­lies in the Colum­bus area, with three com­pa­nies elim­i­nat­ing a com­bined 566 peo­ple be­tween mid-De­cem­ber and Jan. 1.

Lay­off and clo­sure no­tices filed with the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of La­bor show Ge­or­gia-Pa­cific Wood Prod­ucts LLC is lay­ing off 321 em­ploy­ees at its ply­wood plant in Warm Springs, Ga., a prop­erty that is be­ing closed after a nearly 40year run in the Meri­wether County com­mu­nity north of Colum­bus.

An­other 83 work­ers with XPO Lo­gis­tics in the Mid­land area of Colum­bus are be­ing cut as of Dec. 31, ac­cord­ing to the state, while Ap­tim Fed­eral Ser­vices is lay­ing off 152 staffers at Fort Ben­ning on Jan. 1.

The of­fi­cial lay­off date for em­ploy­ees of At­lantabased Ge­or­gia-Pa­cific in Warm Springs is Dec. 17, al­though com­pany spokesman Rick Kim­ble said the fi­nal day of op­er­a­tions is a bit fuzzy as the ply­wood plant winds down its op­er­a­tions and runs through fi­nal in­ven­tory. It has oper­ated since 1975.

“One of the rea­sons it kind of strug­gled is that it was a smaller plant,” said Kim­ble, con­firm­ing the work­ers there will be paid through mid-Jan­uary and keep their ben­e­fits through the end of that month. A job fair was sched­uled Thurs­day at the plant, with Ge­or­gia-Pa­cific re­cruiters ex­pected to be there and other lo­cal em­ploy­ers in­vited.

Kim­ble said there are no plans at the mo­ment to sell the prop­erty or equip­ment at 5875 Chip­ley High­way in Warm Springs. That’s be­cause there is a pos­si­bil­ity it might be re­tooled for an­other type of op­er­a­tion. He pointed to a ply­wood mill that closed in Taladega, Ala., a few years ago, but re­opened this year.

“We ba­si­cally tore ev­ery­thing down from the ply­wood (op­er­a­tion) and came back as a lum­ber mill be­cause the dy­nam­ics in the mar­ket­place for lum­ber are dif­fer­ent now than they are for ply­wood,” he said. “Right now there’s a pretty strong de­mand and mar­ket for lum­ber.”

As for XPO Lo­gis­tics, it’s un­clear what in­ten­tions the com­pany has for Colum­bus mov­ing for­ward as it elim­i­nates 83 work­ers at its 7775 Chattsworth Road lo­ca­tion, which is in­side Musco­gee Tech­nol­ogy Park just off U.S. Hwy. 80. Calls and emails seek­ing com­ment from the com­pany were not re­turned.

Green­wich, Conn.based XPO Lo­gis­tics, which han­dles ex­pe­dited

freight and other trans­porta­tion needs for other com­pa­nies, is be­lieved to have been con­nected lo­cally to NCR Corp., with it do­ing busi­ness with the ma­jor com­pany.

At­lanta-based NCR, an au­to­mated teller ma­chine and self-ser­vice check­out sys­tem man­u­fac­turer, stunned the city this year when it sud­denly an­nounced it was clos­ing two plants in Colum­bus, one at Cor­po­rate Ridge Busi­ness Park, the other at Musco­gee Tech­nol­ogy Park. Those 1,039 jobs, which in­cluded staffing agency em­ploy­ees, are now gone as well. The work done lo­cally was out­sourced to a Flor­ida-based firm.

At Fort Ben­ning, with much of the post lo­cated in Chat­ta­hoochee County, Ap­tim Fed­eral Ser­vices has listed Jan. 1 as the lay­off date for 152 work­ers on the in­stal­la­tion known as the U.S. Army Ma­neu­ver Cen­ter of Ex­cel­lence. The com­pany, which did not re­spond to emails, in­cludes in­fra­struc­ture sup­port at U.S. mil­i­tary bases among its ser­vices.

Ap­tim ul­ti­mately is owned by New York.-based Ver­i­tas Cap­i­tal, a pri­vate eq­uity firm that pur­chased CB&I’s Cap­i­tal Ser­vices busi­ness in 2017, then re­branded it to Ap­tim. The com­pany serves sev­eral mar­kets, in­clud­ing power, in­dus­trial, oil and gas, com­mer­cial and gov­ern­ment.

No­tices filed with the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of La­bor show that Ap­tim laid off 175 work­ers at the end Novem­ber last year, while an­other Fort Ben­ning in­fra­struc­ture sup­port com­pany called Tiya laid off 264 em­ploy­ees at the same time.

The job cuts come with the un­em­ploy­ment rate in the Colum­bus metro area at 4.3 per­cent in Oc­to­ber, the lat­est fig­ure re­leased by the la­bor depart­ment. The job­less rate in Meri­wether County is 4.6 per­cent.

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