>Employer made cuts in workforce due to slow housing market
Suffering the effects of the shifting housing market, Contact Industries recently released 10 percent of their workforce.
   "We did a reduction in force of 55 people," said Contact Industries Vice President of Manufacturing Bob Horton. "We make products for the housing industry and with the steep decline in the number of homes being built, we're seeing a decline in orders. We just see this housing thing is deep enough and long enough that this isn't going to be over any time soon."
   By releasing the employees, Contact Industries refrained from making the promises associated with layoffs.
   "When we talk about layoffs, usually there's an expectation that you'll recall people back to work as soon as things get a little bit better," Horton continued. "In a reduction in force, we're expecting the weakness in housing to continue for some period of time. So, we don't want to create false hope or false promise that people will be recalled to work."
   In addition to forecasting the housing market, Contact has also watched as their clients made personnel changes.
   "Our customers have seen weaknesses to the point where they've had some large reductions in force and actually, some have closed some plants that they own," Horton said. "So the slump is not just a regional issue, it's very much a national issue."
   While still employing 440 workers, making the decision of which employees to release came down to knowledge of the business.
   "We look at things like skill set, job knowledge and an ability to do a wide variety of jobs," Horton said. "As we go though a reduction in force, we'll have just as many things to make, but in a lower volume. We need people that have the skills and abilities to handle a wide variety of jobs, so we can move them around. They can quickly learn and pick up what needs to be done, or they already have a skill set that makes them especially appropriate for that job."
   Horton went on to say the released employees were not necessarily new to the company or veterans.
   "They were from a wide variety of groups," he said.
   In addition, most of the employees are Crook County residents.
   "If you looked at the demographics of our workforce, it's primarily people that reside in Crook County," Horton added. "But we have some people from Deschutes County and fewer from Jefferson County."
   After making the decision to release the 55 people from employment, Contact Industries has worked closely with Worksource Prineville to help the former employees make a transition.
   "We're working with them as well as other manufacturers to help in any way we can to find jobs for the people that were displaced," Horton said.
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