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March 22. 2013 10:54PM

Blue Seal in Bow lays off 18 employees

BOW - Blue Seal on Hall Street is moving part of its manufacturing operation to Vermont, resulting in layoff notices to 18 of the 27 employees at the animal feed production plant. The retail store at the same location is not affected by the move, according to company spokesperson Janet Sichterman.

The plant had been producing bag feed and bulk feed for animals. The bag feed operation is being consolidated at a Blue Seal plant in Richford, Vt. The bulk feed processing will continue in Bow with the nine remaining employees.

"Customers still will receive the same product in Bow," Sichterman said. "We're doing it for optimization of the supply chain to be sure our customers have the best price and value for the product."

She said the 18 employees affected by the move were given advance notice and were offered positions at the Vermont plant. "We also provided some financial transition assistance," she said, "and are working with other area businesses to find new roles for those workers."

The company also called in a rapid response team from the state Department of Economic Development, said Michael Powers, community outreach administrator in the Office of Workforce Opportunity.

The team consisted of representatives from various state agencies, including Employment Security, Health and Human Services, and Vocational Rehabilitation.

"We first heard about it on March 8 and were in shortly thereafter," he said.

The rapid response teams are usually dispatched for layoffs of 25 or more workers.

"Because of the kind of work they do, production work, we thought it would be good to meet with them and see if we could find some local companies in the area to hire them right away. We are already working on their reemployment."

The layoffs will be implemented over the next few weeks into early April. Friday was the last day of work for some, according to Sichtermann.

"We have a great team there," she said, "but it was a business decision to allow us to remain competitive."

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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